Are our beaches safe?

23 October 2018

Image: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Headquarters.

Beaches are iconic spaces in New Zealand.

Unfortunately, clean beaches are a thing of the past, with over six-million items entering the seas each day, much of which ends up on beaches.

UoW researchers, including Professor Marnie Campbell (now at Murdoch University), Dr Linda Peters, Dr Rebecca Sargisson and Professor Chad Hewitt, have assessed medical insurance claims (ACC) from around New Zealand and over a decade to see how much of a hazard beach litter and marine debris are to people.

Over the 10-year period both new and active beach injury claims increased, resulting in 161,261 total claims over the 10-year period, and averaging 7837 new and 8289 active claims per year. Beach litter related injuries are shown to disproportionately result in puncture injuries, affect children, and occur in tourism hubs. The average claim was $450.

The researchers say the findings demonstrate that beach litter is a pervasive and growing hazard to human health in New Zealand.

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