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Saving our marine animals – Smoke Free Byron Beaches

If you’ve been to Byron Bay’s Main Beach lately you may have seen one of our big, new signs which are part of the Smoke Free Byron Beaches campaign designed to reduce litter, particularly cigarette butts, on the beach.

Leading the Smoke Free Byron Beaches project is Kate Akkerman, Waste Education and Compliance Officer, who comes to Byron Shire Council from the Positive Change for Marine Life group.

“The Positive Change for Marine Life group estimates that it has collected more than 400,000 pieces of rubbish on Byron Bay beaches in the last five years,” Ms Akkerman said.

“One in every three pieces of rubbish is a cigarette butt and since April 2016 Resource Recovery Ambassadors have collected more than 4,600 butts from Apex Park and the beach,” she said.

During a Smoke Free Byron Beaches campaign in 2016 Byron Shire Council and the Positive Change for Marine Life group collected 4,765 cigarette butts along the Byron beach foreshore and Apex Park on weekends between April and December. 

Byron Shire Mayor, Simon Richardson, said the amount of rubbish picked up was astounding.

“The Cape Byron Marine Park is a precious natural environment that attracts visitors and supports tourism activities such as whale watching, diving and kayaking and it is vital that people know about the impact of littering on birds and aquatic life,” said Byron Shire Mayor, Simon Richardson.

“Cigarette butts have been found in the stomachs of turtles, birds and other marine animals and as custodian of some of the most beautiful beaches in Australia and Byron Shire Council is now embarking on a program of education and awareness,” Mayor Richardson said.

“A lot of tourists from overseas aren’t aware of the terrible impact their cigarette butts and other rubbish can have on marine life and I am hoping that these quirky new signs will be a gentle reminder to them to put their butts in the bin,” he said.

“They are also great conversation starters and I am sure our Life guards and surf lifesavers on Main Beach will be happy to tell people why they need to do the right thing.

“It is my hope that the Byron Shire will be a world leader in developing innovative campaigns targeting smoke-free and litter free beaches and foreshores could have long-lasting, positive results,” Mayor Richardson said.

“These signs are the first in a range of innovative education campaigns that will promote smoke-free and litter free beaches and a cleaner and healthier marine environment.

“Byron Council staff spend an average of two hours a day picking up cigarette butts, bottle tops and small pieces of rubbish so not only will new education campaigns hopefully reduce litter, but also free up staff to do other work in the community,” Mayor Richardson said.

For more information call Kate Akkerman on 6626 7000.


Media contact:

Media Communication Officer
Byron Shire Council
Ph: 02 6626 7320

Byron Shire is located at Australia's eastern-most point with a population of almost 29,000. It is a thriving community where residents and visitors live, work and play in a sustainable environment and where Council strives to deliver the highest standard of local government services and infrastructure.