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 Australia's Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999. A threat abatement plan was prepared in 2009 to address the key threatening process, with the primary focus of addressing the impact of entanglement and ingestion of marine debris on vertebrate marine life. Australia is updating the threat abatement plan, incorporating new actions needed to abate the listed key threatening process.
The plan provides national guidance on specific action to prevent and mitigate the impacts of harmful marine debris on vertebrate marine life, through six major objectives:
Contribute to the long-term prevention of the incidence of marine debris
Identify key species, ecological communities, ecosystems and locations impacted by marine debris for priority action.
Conduct research to understand and mitigate the impacts of marine microplastic and plastic debris on marine species and ecological communities.
Remove existing marine debris
Monitor the quantities, origins, types and hazardous chemical contaminants of marine debris, and assess the effectiveness of management arrangements over time for reducing marine debris.
Increase public understanding of the causes and impacts of harmful marine debris, including microplastics and hazardous chemical contaminants in order to generate behaviour change.
The Australian Government is responsible for implementing actions that are its direct responsibility, and will look to guide the implementation of actions where other groups lead.