A SIX-MONTH trial of hand-cleaning beaches – instead of mechanical cleaning – has begun at Mount Eliza, Mount Martha and Rye.
Earlier in the year Mornington Peninsula Shire sought feedback from coastal advisory and beach patrol groups about the existing beach cleaning program on how it could improve the process.
The shire said an “overwhelming 78 per cent of respondents did not support the mechanical beach cleaning program and 67 per cent said they would prefer a hand cleaning program”.
Planning and Infrastructure director Mike McIntosh said the trials, at Moondah Beach, Mount Eliza, South Beach, Mount Martha and at Rye Foreshore (east of the rock groyne to Shirlow Avenue), would determine the environmental benefits of hand cleaning, while “meeting community needs and expectations”.
“One reason for the trial is to ensure organic matter, including seaweed, stays in the coastal environment,” he said. “Seaweed is a natural occurrence and a valuable part of the marine and coastal ecosystem. It provides nutrients for vegetation development, migratory birds and small organisms that keep our coastlines healthy and thriving. Seaweed can also stabilise beaches and may reduce erosion.
“The second reason is that less organic matter is taken to landfill. Hand cleaning allows us to separate waste from organic matter, such as seaweed. Currently, 85 per cent of what the mechanical beach cleaner collects is organic matter.
“By reducing the amount of organic matter going to landfill we are lowering our greenhouse gas emissions and taking another step toward carbon neutrality by 2040 as per the council’s Climate Emergency Plan.
Mechanical cleaning may be done if there are high levels of contamination and litter.