A ‘health check’ of important coastal saltmarshes is currently underway on Eyre Peninsula.
The new STAR (Saltmarsh Threat Abatement and Recovery) Project, funded through the Australian Government’s Regional National Landcare Program, will focus on measures to protect saltmarshes and prevent illegal rubbish dumping in these areas.
Natural Resources Eyre Peninsula staff are assessing the condition of nationally vulnerable Temperate Saltmarshes, looking at the species diversity within each site as well as identifying degraded areas, particularly those under threat from illegal rubbish dumping.
Natural Resources Management Officer Libby Hunt said she’s been involved in assessing seven saltmarsh sites to date.
“Initial priority sites have been identified with land-based rubbish clean-ups already underway,” Ms Hunt said.
“Many of the sites have historic rubbish dumped and typical debris we’ve been removing includes old bottles, tins and plastics that pose a risk to marine life.
“As a society, we are becoming much more aware of the importance of these complex and marvellous ecosystems.
“We really need to shake off the ‘waste-land’ tag historically associated with saltmarshes and we are keen to start a conversation with community about how we collectively want to see them looking into the future.
Saltmarshes play critical roles in filtering terrestrial water runoff before it reaches the open ocean and provide an important nursery ground for juvenile marine life including fish, prawns and sea birds.
Larger plastics frequently break into microplastics, and other sources of rubbish also break into smaller pieces in marine environments, which can then easily enter the food chain of marine and land based wildlife, leading to prolonged suffering and even early death in many species.
Eyre Peninsula’s coastline spans 3,292km which includes 23% of the national distribution of this fragile habitat type.
Litter is a common problem in saltmarsh areas with public access and items such as fishing debris, building material rubbish and garden waste containing weeds pose significant threats.
Natural Resources Eyre Peninsula will soon be hosting a range of workshops and clean-up events for community and schools to learn and explore local saltmarsh habitats.
For further information visit the Natural Resources Eyre Peninsula website.