1,300 face masks among 115kg of marine debris recovered from lost shipping containers

More than 1,300 face masks and hundreds of plastic meat trays have washed ashore on the New South Wales South Coast.

The debris, thought to have come from shipping containers that fell off the APL England in March, was collected by Jervis Bay couple Dani and Tom Jacobsen.

Along with the masks and the 300 or so meat trays, the Jacobsens said they had collected about 115 kilograms’ worth of other detritus they believed came from the same containers.

NSW Maritime had issued a warning to mariners over concerns one of the containers could wash up in Jervis Bay due to large swells in July.

The Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) confirmed its last sighting of the container was on July 13, 26 nautical miles east of Gerringong, north of Jervis Bay.

Face masks were also spotted at the site.

Face masks and plastic trays sorted into two piles.
Dani and Tom Jacobson collected 115 kilograms of rubbish believed to be from the lost shipping containers.(Supplied: Catching Paradise)

‘We’re becoming hoarders’

The Jacobsons, who have been collecting rubbish from around the Jervis Bay area for 18 months, keep records of what they find.

To date, they have collected 470 kilograms of debris so far.

“We are getting better at finding it after storms and where it is likely to wash in based on the wind direction,” Mr Jacobson said.

“We document it so we can work out the trends as to where it will be.

Once they find it, they keep it in their front yard and sort it into recyclables and rubbish.

“We’re becoming marine hoarders,” Mrs Jacobson said.

A pile of rubbish on a white sand beach, with a woman sitting nearby.
Dani and Tom Jacobsen have started an Instagram account to document their efforts.(Supplied: Catching Paradise)

Creating a clean-up culture

The pair started an Instagram account to document efforts, as well as a clean-up group in the Jervis Bay area to help inspire the community to keep its beaches – often marketed as “pristine” – clean.

“We all have common interests — we care about our ocean and the environment,” Mrs Jacobson said.

“It’s a blessing for us to get out, meet others and walk along the beaches collecting rubbish.

“People are definitely starting to get that awareness and look out for it.

AMSA is still working to try and retrieve the lost shipping containers and associated rubbish.

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