Climate crusader hopes to inspire change
A PASSIONATE environmental conservationist and Reef Check volunteer is hoping to inspire more to get their "butt into gear" and act on climate change and plastic pollution.
Reef Check ambassador Renee Currenti developed a passion for the ocean growing up in Coolum and dedicated her career to making a difference in all areas of climate change.
Ms Currenti, who studied sustainability and geography at the University of the Sunshine Coast before attaining her masters in climate change adaptation, said the lack of action was worrying.
"My fear is that it's going to be business as usual. Noosa council has declared it as a climate emergency and so has Victoria, so I think we need to treat it like an emergency and get our butt into gear and do stuff," she said.
Ms Currenti said it wasn't until she began travelling that her eyes were opened to the human impact on the ocean.
"Growing up I was always going to the beach on weekends and I guess at that age we kind of take it for granted how lucky we are to have what we have," she said.
"I think it's not until you travel overseas and go to other places where the beaches are just covered in trash and you can't even walk or swim because it's just filthy that you realise.
"I remember being on a beach in Portugal and it was just covered, and you can only pick up so much, so you have to leave it there, but you just think, 'Where this is coming from?'"
Environmental not-for-profit organisation Reef Check Australia aims to empower people to take positive action for reefs through engaging in citizen science, connecting people with reef science, and local conservation projects.
Reef Check scuba surveyor of four years Philip Dunbaban said systematic changes needed to be made to relieve our oceans of plastic.
"It's important to remember that our coastlines are just the edge of the ocean and from what I've read and seen there is so much plastic in the ocean that the global community are struggling to work out how to deal with it," he said.
"We can't expect that everyone is going to put their rubbish in the bin, so if we can find ways to reduce the impact of that rubbish if it does enter the environment that would be a positive thing.
"As a community and society we need to move away from those single-use plastics and look at thing that we can use instead, for example maybe we could use a piece of bamboo for
Chupa Chups sticks so it doesn't really matter if they drop the stick because it is organic material."
Ms Currenti hopes monthly Coast to Coral talks held at Sea Life in Mooloolaba inspire locals to make positive changes.
"It's important that everyone knows that all the little actions make a difference. Yes, we are just a drop in the ocean, but together we are the ocean, which I think is really powerful," she said.
"It's overwhelming in this climate emergency era and you think, 'What can poor little me do?', and I think it's just putting yourself out there and getting involved and finding a team to work with and it (Coast to Coral talks) gives them with more awareness or something that you can do."
The next Coast to Coral talk will be held on March 10 with special guest Dr Chris Roelfsema from the University of Queensland detailing the mapping of local and international coral reefs.
For more information visit the Coast to Coral Sunshine Coast: Mapping Coral Reefs event Facebook page.