Integration of community-derived marine debris data and oceanic modelling provides a real time perspective for targeted mitigation in waters of South Australia

Dr Kristian Peters1, Mr Tony Flaherty1, Dr Ana Redondo Rodriguez2, Dr  Charles James2

1Green Adelaide – Department for Environment and Water, South Australia, 2South Australian Research and Development Institute, West beach, Australia


Using coastal surveys to understand the composition and abundance of marine debris in a spatial and temporal context has been a key focus for Natural Resources Adelaide and Mount Lofty Ranges in South Australia particularly in the Gulf of St Vincent (GSV), Yorke Peninsula and Kangaroo Island regions. Over the past 10 years, volunteer data from this community campaign illustrate plastic debris is a key threat to local marine and coastal environments, emphasising sources of both urban and oceanic in origin. This information has been a fundamental component of the evidence required to commence targeted management and mitigation.

Our next focal step has been to understand the spatial movement and determine the extent that debris travels in local marine environments. This has been achieved using hind-cast oceanographic models which simulate transport of passive particles of marine debris and identifies points and areas of accumulation. The information combined with volunteer data has provided the first fine-scale assessment of seasonal distribution patterns for marine debris in South Australian Gulfs and local surrounding waters. This approach can be used to improve the long term management at key source locations and provide information that can benefit multiple stakeholders including state and local government, industry and the community.


Dr Kristian Peters is the Scientific Officer for Green Adelaide/Environment, Heritage & Sustainability Division, Department for Environment and Water, South Australia. He manages a range of marine, aquatic and terrestrial ecosystem-based programs aimed at providing health and condition status information on key threatening processes.