Team Coffs Harbour

"I feel that doing the Marine Debris Challenge will give me a chance to make a practical difference, enabling others in the community to be able to do something to actually make a difference as well. I know there are many other people in Coffs Harbour feeling like somebody should do something. Here is their chance to act."

(Michelle Van Santen - Marine Debris Challenge Leader)

We are honoured to have had Paul Shipway and Michelle (Shelli) Van Santen leading the Coffs Harbour Marine Debris Challenge this year to address the issues associated with marine debris in their community. Paul and Shelli were both sick of sitting on the sidelines and seeing the place that they loved being trashed so they took action through studying the issue and joining the Marine Debris Challenge!

Through events, actions, education programs and a screening of 'Bag It' at the National Marine Science Centre in Coffs Harbour, Shelli and Paul took action for the ocean and inspired their community at the same time!

Why not sign-up for our 2017 Challenge here?

"I moved to the Coffs coast in mid July 2015 for work. The first weekend I had my children come to visit we went looking around the local beaches and headlands to explore what the local area had to offer. While we were checking the place out the three of us became more and more concerned about the amount of rubbish we encountered at each place we went. Of greatest concern was the number of cigarette butts in the car parks, as well as general rubbish on and around the headlands and estuary entrances. That day we collected what we could and disposed of it..."

(Paul Shipway - Marine Debris Challenge Leader)

The Coffs coast is located on the mid north coast of NSW, where the mountains meet the sea. This part of the NSW mid north coast boasts a series of headlands and embayed beaches with small estuaries on some of the beaches, and of course the beautiful Harbour itself. Another of the gems of the Coffs coast is the Solitary Islands Marine Park (SIMP) which includes of a group of small islands just off the coast that are home to some of the most diverse marine life in Australia.

The marine park stretches from Coffs Harbour north to Sanden River Mouth and is the third largest protected marine park in NSW, covering an area of 71,000 hectares along 71km of coast. It's home to a vast array of biodiversity and is unique as it boasts both temperate species that thrive in the cooler southern waters, as well as warmer tropical species adapted to the sub-tropical north. The marine park is also an aggregation site for the critically endangered Grey Nurse shark.

Photography ©Paul Shipway & Shelli Van Santen 2016