About the document
In August 2003, 'Injury and fatality to vertebrate marine life caused by ingestion of, or entanglement in, harmful marine debris' was listed as a key threatening process under the Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act).
Harmful marine debris includes land-sourced garbage, fishing gear from recreational and commercial fishing abandoned or lost to the sea, and vessel-sourced, solid, non-biodegradable floating materials disposed of or lost at sea. Most of these items are made of synthetic plastics. Harmful marine debris is recognised as a ubiquitous, global problem. Many industry, government and non-government stakeholders are also working to address marine debris and related issues (e.g. through beach clean-up and management of litter and illegal dumping).
The threat abatement plan for the impacts of marine debris on the vertebrate wildlife of Australia's coasts and oceans incorporates actions needed to abate the listed key threatening process, particularly actions to develop understanding about microplastic impacts and the potential role of new technologies in waste management. The actions are intended to be feasible, effective and efficient, as required by the EPBC Act. The plan binds the Commonwealth and its agencies to respond to the impact of marine debris on vertebrate marine life, and identifies the research, management and other actions needed to reduce the impacts of marine debris on affected species.