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Over 1 million marine debris collected by Sea Shepherd in 2 years!

In February 2016, Sea Shepherd Australia announced a campaign dedicated to combatting and raising awareness of the global catastrophe that is plastic pollution in our seas.

Two years on and the Sea Shepherd Marine Debris Campaign in Australia has gone from strength to strength, proving to the world that plastic pollution is a problem worth addressing for the greater good of our oceans and its inhabitants. 

The Marine Debris Campaign takes direct action on plastic which involves the physical removal of dangerous debris from our coastlines and waterways in Australia. The campaign concentrates on facilitating change within the communities of the country through education and involvement.

Every state of Australia has a Marine Debris team, oftentimes volunteers making special remote trips to places like Cocos Keeling Island off the coast of Western Australia.

In the two years since its creation, the Marine Debris Campaign has had some astounding feats. The tireless coordinators have educated hundreds upon hundreds of children and students, involved over 10,000 of locals from communities across the nation, reached tens of thousands of people online through social media, and collectively have picked up and recorded over one million items of debris.

The Big One Million: What have we achieved?

Over the past two years, we have far exceeded the one million pieces mark. In fact, we have collected a grand total of 1,233,595 items from across the country. Of the 1.2 million items we collected off the shores of the country, 80.2% was plastic. 

“Plastic kills,” Liza Dicks, Sea Shepherd Marine Debris’ national coordinator, said. “We are seeing our oceans choke under the pressure of plastic pollution at a catastrophic rate. Our beach clean ups are a hands-on effort to help ease the load off of our delicate native eco-systems.” 

It takes an army of compassionate people to collect 1.2 million items of debris, an army of exactly 10,349, over the two years of our beach clean-ups.

It hasn’t been light work. We have weighed in at a total of 22,126.97 kilograms, over 1,600 bags-full, and have covered over 77,736 meters of beach.

The Top 5: What have we been collecting?

5. Paper and Cardboard Packaging

Found in almost every household, business, or shop, paper and cardboard packaging is produced at an astonishing rate and is extraordinarily detrimental to our forests. A massive number of 57,806 was collected during our cleans.

4. Plastic Food Packaging (wrap/packets/containers)

We live in a disposable society where we would rather buy a quick meal in a plastic container than make and store one ourselves. Plastic food packaging may be one of the most frustrating items to find as they are usually branded by major food companies. We recorded 122,640 items of plastic food packaging. 

3. Plastic Film Remnants (bits of plastic bag, wrap etc.)

Soft plastic film remnants are light and small, making them easily missed by council workers, and easily picked up by wind or rain. Plastic film remnants often find their way quickly into the ocean and are often mistaken for jellyfish and ingested by turtles. We have seen dolphins suffering with plastic bags covering their blow holes, and whales ingesting unfathomable amounts of plastic bag and plastic film remnants. A total of 148,038 were recorded during our cleans.

2. Plastic Bits and Pieces (hard and solid)

It is estimated by scientists that in the coming years we will see 99% of the seabird population across the world affected by hard plastic ingestion. Plastic doesn’t break down; plastic breaks up into tiny items of plastic, often small enough to be considered micro-plastics. Small bits and pieces of hard and solid plastic came in at a total of 154,170.

1. Cigarette Butts and Filters

Cigarette butts are formed with cellulose acetate, a form of plastic, and while they are small, the several trillion estimated discarded cigarette butts around the world are having a toxic effect on our oceans. It can take up to 25 years for one cigarette butt to break down. The Sea Shepherd Marine Debris teams across Australia collected approximately 276,499 individual cigarette butts.

What Can You Do?

"We need to put the responsibility back on to the plastic manufacturers and make them accountable for their wasteful plastic production," Liza Dicks said. “We can all make a difference just by refusing single use plastic and opting for reusable alternatives.

“It can just be a small change like investing in a Keep Cup or taking your own reusable cutlery to a picnic that can make all the difference. I like the saying ‘think globally but act locally’ because change starts with us. It doesn’t have to be overwhelming.”

Along with refusing, reducing, reusing, remaking, resourcing, and recycling, you can join in with your local Sea Shepherd Marine Debris team and give a hand in collecting this important data.

Our beach clean-ups continue to grow as we see huge numbers of volunteers join in each month to help keep Australia’s shorelines beautiful. You can find our clean up events on our Facebook Page ( and Instagram (

They are free to join and family-friendly; we love seeing kids come along and get involved with becoming the change our local communities and eco-systems need. 

The toxic tide of plastic pollution is slowly beginning to turn, but with eight million tonnes of plastic flowing into our oceans every year the fight continues to keep our oceans plastic free.

Kimberley Bernard
Queensland Marine Debris Coordinator

Northern NSW Shark Net Trial Update

Shark Net - False Sense of Safety

Commentary by Allyson Jennings – NSW Apex Harmony Coordinator:

Our Apex Harmony crew have been out on the water documenting the shameful carnage of the Northern NSW shark net trial. Recently, they found two live eagle rays trapped in the Lennox Head and Lighthouse Beach nets. A phone call made to NSW Department of Primary Industries to inform them of the find and request them to release the rays was denied by a NSW DPI official.

Read more: Northern NSW Shark Net Trial Update

The nets of North Coast NSW are nothing but a band aid solution for ocean safety

A dead dusky whaler shark entangled in nets off Lennox Beach

Commentary by Allyson Jennings – NSW Apex Harmony Coordinator:

On Tuesday 12th December, our Apex Harmony crew was out on the water off Seven Mile Beach in Lennox Head documenting and recording when they came across a 1.5m Dusky Whaler shark, not long dead in the net. Dusky whalers are timid sharks and will swim away when approached.

Read more: The nets of North Coast NSW are nothing but a band aid solution for ocean safety

Sea Shepherd and Japanese whaling

Captain Paul Watson look to Nisshin Maru with his binoculars

Commentary by Paul Watson:

The Japanese Whaling fleet has left from Japan bound for the waters of the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary.

The intention of the Japanese whalers is to commit criminal acts of poaching against protected Minke whales in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary in defiance of the International ban on commercial whaling, in defiance of the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary, in defiance of the International Whaling Commission (IWC), in defiance of the International Court of Justice, in defiance of the Australian Federal Court and in defiance of world opinion and international law.

Read more: Sea Shepherd and Japanese whaling

The Sea Shepherd Flag

The Sea Shepherd Flag

Commentary by Paul Watson:

People often ask what our flag stands for and why do we fly what looks to be the Jolly Roger – the flag of piracy.

It goes back a few years when our critics accused us of being pirates. At first I was amused. Sea Shepherd primarily opposes illegal operations like outlaw whaling and unlawful fishing operations. I established Sea Shepherd as an anti-poaching organization, essentially an anti-piracy organization.

Read more: The Sea Shepherd Flag

Statoil should follow BP & Chevron’s lead and leave the Great Australian Bight

Southern Right Whales: Two mum and calf pair photographed in the Great Australian Bight whilst on Operation Jeedara in South Australia in 2016. Photo: Eliza Muirhead

Commentary by Jeff Hansen:

Almost a year ago, to the day, you helped Sea Shepherd and all members of the Great Australian Bight Alliance achieve victory, when BP decided not to drill for oil in the Bight.

Chevron has also joined BP and ditched its plans too!Despite BP’s withdrawal, community opposition to Bight drilling kept growing but I am excited, relieved and hopeful to learn that Chevron has quit their Bight Operations.

Read more: Statoil should follow BP & Chevron’s lead and leave the Great Australian Bight

Sea Shepherd must adapt to more effectively defend Dolphins

Commentary by Captain Paul Watson

The bloody killing cove in TaijiSince the early Sixties, an insidious trade of intelligent, self-aware, sentient beings has been growing like a malignant cancer within human society. It is a slave trade that has been the cause of unimaginable misery and has claimed the lives of thousands of dolphins. This cruel industry has spread across Europe and Asia with hundreds of marine aquariums operating, many of them with grossly inadequate facilities. 

Sea Shepherd has been documenting and opposing the dreadful slaughter and capture of dolphins in Taiji, Japan since 2003. In the beginning Sea Shepherd cut nets and freed 16 pilot whales back in October 2003, an action that sent two volunteers to jail for over a month. Sea Shepherd brought the story to the world’s media with headline stories and coverage on CNN...but the killing continued.

Read more: Sea Shepherd must adapt to more effectively defend Dolphins

More Articles ...

  1. 28 Aug 2017 - The Whale Wars Continue
  2. 15 Aug 2017 - Love is Love - Sea Shepherd supports marriage equality in Australia
  3. 08 Aug 2017 - Federal push for drumlines in West does nothing for public safety
  4. 01 Aug 2017 - Sea Shepherd joins stop Adani Alliance and the fight for our Great Barrier Reef and children's future
  5. 16 Jun 2017 - Sea Shepherd condemns Japan's Governments bill to resume commercial whaling
  6. 18 May 2017 - The smarts on ‘SMART’ drum lines
  7. 02 May 2017 - In Liberia, We Shut Down Illegal Fishing
  8. 03 Apr 2017 - In Response to Japanese Whalers Reaching their Quota of 333 Whales
  9. 02 Apr 2017 - Another Battle is Over in the War to Save the Whales
  10. 30 Mar 2017 - “Not One Cent for Bribery” – The Story of the Arrest of the FV Lu Rong Yuan Yu 988
  11. 09 Mar 2017 - The End of Operation Nemesis
  12. 01 Mar 2017 - Kelly Slater Is Not An Enemy of the Sharks
  13. 23 Feb 2017 - Steve Irwin Back From Antarctica
  14. 24 Nov 2016 - Fear and loathing for the whales from UTAS and ANU reps
  15. 11 Nov 2016 - Sea Shepherd Slams the NSW Government’s Knee Jerk Reaction to Shark Encounters on the Northern NSW Coast
  16. 31 Oct 2016 - DPI Shark Net Survey – Urgent
  17. 25 Oct 2016 - Shark nets will not work in northern NSW
  18. 20 Oct 2016 - Nets are not the way to go to solve shark issue on NSW North Coast
  19. 08 Aug 2016 - Pearson Island Group - A wilderness area of global significance
  20. 11 Jul 2016 - Sea Shepherd Australia commends NSW Parliamentary Committee recommendations but still more work to do
  21. 20 Jun 2016 - Lack of transparency putting ocean users safety at risk in NSW
  22. 02 Jun 2016 - Western Australian Government killing an IUCN Red listed protected Great White Shark won't save lives
  23. 09 May 2016 - The Origin of Operation Albacore - a long walk, a long chase and a new front in the fight to protect African Wildlife
  24. 31 Mar 2016 - Thirty Years of Vigilance Against Destructive Driftnets
  25. 07 Mar 2016 - The End of the 'Bandit 6'
  26. 07 Feb 2016 - Greenpeace Is Sliding Backwards Down a Slippery Slope
  27. 14 Jan 2016 - It’s Time to Go Global With the Gruesome Grindadráp
  28. 12 Jan 2016 - Whales don’t have a choice, but you do, say no to Krill
  29. 06 Jan 2016 - Japan – The Cherry Picking Rogue Nation
  30. 20 Dec 2015 - Another doctor of the ocean killed for merely a false sense of security as part of Queensland's war on sharks
  31. 17 Dec 2015 - The HMNZS Otago returns to New Zealand today
  32. 16 Dec 2015 - Steve Irwin Galley Update
  33. 16 Dec 2015 - Dry dock report from MV Bob Barker in Tuzla, Turkey
  34. 04 Dec 2015 - Opposing the Japanese Pirate Whalers In the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary
  35. 26 Nov 2015 - Smart drum lines, not so smart, Sea Shepherd Australia urges the NSW Government to reconsider their use
  36. 05 Oct 2015 - An overview of the 2015 NSW Shark Summit
  37. 15 Aug 2015 - We already cull thousands of predatory sharks a year, but shark attacks are rising
  38. 05 Aug 2015 - Proof that New South Wales nets only provide a false sense of security
  39. 04 Aug 2015 - Why Are Danes Killing Whales?
  40. 17 Jul 2015 - Sea Shepherd captures footage of juvenile dolphin caught on drum line in Queensland
  41. 07 Jul 2015 - It’s time for 1930’s shark nets to be a past memory
  42. 03 Jul 2015 - Saving the Smallest to Protect the Largest
  43. 14 Jun 2015 - Weathering the Storm
  44. 07 Jun 2015 - World Oceans Day - Every Day
  45. 26 May 2015 - Amazing Operation in the Red Sea
  46. 03 Apr 2015 - Fish On Friday - NO THANK YOU!
  47. 31 Mar 2015 - False Sense Options for Shark Mitigation are pushed to the side in Ballina, NSW Meeting
  48. 05 Mar 2015 - 78 Days of Pursuit: Operation Icefish Update
  49. 05 Mar 2015 - Court Victory for the Bluefin Tuna and Sea Shepherd
  50. 04 Mar 2015 - #SeriousAboutWildlifeCrime
  51. 25 Feb 2015 - Shark media hysteria has to go
  52. 10 Feb 2015 - Many shark safety options now available
  53. 29 Jan 2015 - ‘Hope’ is Not a Strategy – It’s a Chinese White Dolphin!
  54. 22 Jan 2015 - Sea Shepherd releases community consultation documents regarding the drum lines
  55. 15 Jan 2015 - The Murky Waters Where Science Becomes a Tool for Killing a Protected Species
  56. 23 Dec 2014 - WA Gov and WA Fisheries waste taxpayers’ money to achieve nothing in their bid to kill JAWS
  57. 28 Oct 2014 - Is it in Australia's national interests to kill IUCN Red Listed Protected sharks?
  58. 09 Oct 2014 - Cabo Verde – Raso Island
  59. 02 Oct 2014 - The Gauntlet of Praia de Achados
  60. 12 Sep 2014 - The Loggerheads of Santa Luzia
  61. 31 Aug 2014 - The Day After the Slaughter
  62. 28 Aug 2014 - Woe to the Poor Whales that Get Stranded on a Beach in the Ferocious Isles
  63. 27 Aug 2014 - Playing Fair with the Faroese
  64. 23 Aug 2014 - Captain Paul Watson Responds to a Pro-whaling Faroese Editorial
  65. 20 Aug 2014 - The Faroe Islands Support Commercial Whaling
  66. 19 Aug 2014 - Shark Week Special shows sinister side to Shark Week
  67. 13 Aug 2014 - Close Call for Pilot Whale Pod in the Suderoy
  68. 06 Aug 2014 - Killing Endangered Sharks
  69. 01 Aug 2014 - Brigitte Bardot and the Cape Verde Shearwaters
  70. 26 Jul 2014 - Opposing the Horrific Depravity of Senseless Slaughter in the Faroe Islands
  71. 09 Jul 2014 - Sea Shepherd makes submission to stop WA’s shark drum lines
  72. 07 Jul 2014 - Note to All the Pro-Whale Murdering Sea Shepherd Haters in the Faroe Islands
  73. 10 Jun 2014 - Sea Shepherd Global Stands Ready to Oppose Renegade Japanese Whalers
  74. 30 May 2014 - Standing Guard Over Plemmirio
  75. 10 May 2014 - Pills of Extinction
  76. 09 May 2014 - Sea Shepherd Responds to Whaling Industry Plans for 2014/15 Season
  77. 09 Apr 2014 - The Jolly Roger Flying Proudly in Asia...
  78. 07 Apr 2014 - Sea Shepherd Australia thanks Bob Brown, as he steps down as chairman
  79. 08 Mar 2014 - Captain Paul Watson on Bindi Irwin and SeaWorld
  80. 06 Mar 2014 - Relentless to the End – Operation Relentless Update
  81. 04 Mar 2014 - Captain Hammarstedt Responds to Greg Hunt
  82. 25 Feb 2014 - Captain Peter Hammarstedt - Open Letter to Greg Hunt
  83. 20 Feb 2014 - My Experience Being Bitten By A Shark
  84. 03 Feb 2014 - World condemns West Australian Governments shark cull
  85. 23 Jan 2014 - A Kindness of hearts nurtures a force to be reckoned with for the oceans!
  86. 20 Jan 2014 - The Bloody Science of Whaling
  87. 07 Jan 2014 - Documenting the Slaughter in the Southern Ocean
  88. 04 Jan 2014 - The Tao of Sharks and Surfers
  89. 31 Dec 2013 - Much Ado About Nothing
  90. 29 Dec 2013 - New threat to Western Australian Marine Life
  91. 21 Dec 2013 - Sea Shepherd opposes the culling of a protected species off Western Australian coasts
  92. 05 Dec 2013 - Hurrah for the Hammer!
  93. 19 Nov 2013 - New Zealand Marine Wildlife Under Threat – Part 2: Shark Finning
  94. 11 Nov 2013 - Sea Shepherd Australia defends the whales in Seattle court
  95. 14 Oct 2013 - SeaWorld & co, WAZA and IMATA and Their Collaboration with the Dolphin Slaughter in Japan
  96. 04 Oct 2013 - Australia’s Grey Nurse Shark is Under Threat and Needs Your Help!
  97. 30 Sep 2013 - Sea Shepherd Australia gives gratitude to Barrister Jonathan Korman as we seek leave of the high court
  98. 30 Sep 2013 - Chinchilla Says the President is Not Responsible for Government Corruption
  99. 26 Sep 2013 - Environmental Protest is the New Piracy
  100. 25 Sep 2013 - New Zealand Marine Wildlife Under Threat - Part 1: Maui’s Dolphin
  101. 21 Sep 2013 - How Deep is The CR Shark Finning Rabbit Hole?
  102. 07 Sep 2013 - We Stand for the Dolphins, First, Foremost and Forever.
  103. 05 Sep 2013 - Why Its Important for The Cove Guardians to be in Taiji
  104. 03 Sep 2013 - The Cove Guardians and the Sea Shepherd Policy of Gaiatsu
  105. 29 Aug 2013 - And the Bloodlust Continues in the Faroe Islands...
  106. 22 Aug 2013 - Brutal Death and Suffering; Business as Usual in The Faroe Islands
  107. 20 Aug 2013 - Help Save the Réunion Sharks — Sign the Petition
  108. 09 Aug 2013 - As the Oceans Choke on Plastic so do the Whales
  109. 27 Jul 2013 - Requiem for the Sharks of La Reunion Island?
  110. 13 Jul 2013 - More About Scientific Whaling...
  111. 12 Jul 2013 - Week Three in The Hague
  112. 10 Jul 2013 - My Thoughts - Australia v. Japan ‘Scientific Whaling’ Case in the International Court of Justice
  113. 04 Jul 2013 - “Scientific Whaling” Morphs into “Cultural Whaling”
  114. 03 Jul 2013 - Reflecting on the Opening Arguments of Whaling in the Antarctic
  115. 21 Jun 2013 - The First Day of Summer 2013
  116. 19 Jun 2013 - The Japanese Industrialization of Ocean Destruction
  117. 13 Jun 2013 - Sea Shepherd views on the Cruise Report of the Japanese Whale Research Program
  118. 25 May 2013 - Iceland to Resume the Slaughter of Endangered Fin Whales
  119. 23 May 2013 - Florida’s Manatees are Dying in Record Numbers
  120. 22 May 2013 - FedCon goes Jolly Roger in Germany
  121. 20 May 2013 - Paddling For The Oceans
  122. 17 May 2013 - The Icelandic Boot Stomping Biodiversity Bank Robbing
  123. 17 Apr 2013 - Krill Fisheries, the Next Collapse?
  124. 07 Apr 2013 - Whalers Return to Japan in Disgrace
  125. 28 Mar 2013 - The Truth Behind All the Smoke and Mirrors
  126. 21 Mar 2013 - The Damn Shame of the Bonneville Dam
  127. 19 Mar 2013 - CITES – Victory of Good Over Evil
  128. 16 Mar 2013 - The Damn Hunger Games on the Columbia River
  129. 16 Mar 2013 - CITES 101 and the Year of the Sharks?
  130. 10 Mar 2013 - MacGyver at Perth OZ Comic Con
  131. 05 Mar 2013 - The “Illegal” Baby Killers
  132. 01 Mar 2013 - Sea Shepherd Escorts the Japanese Whaling Fleet Out of the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary
  133. 27 Feb 2013 - Ten Questions With Answers from the Southern Ocean
  134. 23 Feb 2013 - Operation Zero Tolerance Collision Statement
  135. 21 Feb 2013 - I Am Proud to Wear Sea Shepherd Garb
  136. 21 Feb 2013 - Our New Friends on the Whaling Fleet Tanker Sun Laurel
  137. 11 Feb 2013 - Letter to the Red Hot Chili Peppers
  138. 04 Feb 2013 - Japanese Whaler Welfare Bums Need to Get an Honest Job
  139. 25 Jan 2013 - Take Direct Action By Organizing a Local Beach Clean-Up
  140. 19 Jan 2013 - Be a Voice for the Dolphins
  141. 10 Jan 2013 - Vote Rigging In CITES?
  142. 07 Jan 2013 - Statement from Captain Paul Watson
  143. 04 Jan 2013 - Sharks on the Roof
  144. 03 Jan 2013 - Meeting the Descendants of Moby Dick
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