Caring For Our Bays
The Caring For Our Bays program is an innovative program that aims to lift the profile and appreciation of Corio Bay and the Bellarine shoreline of Port Phillip Bay, raise awareness of litter and its impact and reduce the amount of litter, sediments and nutrients that enter the waterways. Bellarine Catchment Network assists management authorities to improve environmental outcomes, with a focus on this project to improve the health of our waterways and bays.
The bay region is facing a litter crisis. Litter remains in the water and is not generally cleaned up due to the difficulty of collection. Litter is an issue that is evident to all stakeholders and this project will facilitate an integrated and coordinated approach to the issue. This is a generational issue as the litter will persist in the environment for years and it is important to stop the litter at it's source. Healthy, litter free environments are resilient environments. We aim to educate and encourage the community to look after their local area and improve the health of both the bay and the foreshore.
A major part of our program is our citizen science project that aims to collate data regarding the sources of litter. Our volunteers currently audit 16 locations throughout Geelong and the Bellarine and have already collected over 18,000 items of litter in under 12 months. This research has demonstrated that there is a significant litter problem in the Geelong-Bellarine area. Cigarette butts, soft plastics and fishing waste in particular have been found in significant numbers both on the shoreline and in the water. These plastics are detrimental to marine life and are unsightly.
In October 2014 the Victorian Government announced funding allocations for round two of the Litter Hotspots Project, for local organisations to implement their projects. The program provides funding to support initiatives to improve water quality and reduce litter in the Yarra River and Port Phillip Bay. The Caring for our Bays Program (CFOB) successfully received multi-year funding from this initiative. The CFOB Program is the first coordinated project to cover the catchments running into Corio Bay (western part of Port Phillip Bay) and to integrate engagement, infrastructure and enforcement activities across community, business and government in the region. This program will reach out and involve groups that were previously working well but in isolation and without a central focus, on reducing litter and improving water quality in Corio Bay.