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Published: 2009-02-23 00:00:00

Keeping our beaches beautiful and safe for people and marine life is everyone’s responsibility, says Environment Waikato.

The regional council, Thames-Coromandel District Council, Waikato University, Extreme Waste Ltd and the Whaingaroa Environment Centre are teaming up this year to provide practical tips on protecting the region’s precious coastal marine areas.

It’s all part of the national Seaweek which runs from Sunday 1 March to Sunday 8 March.

"We’re aiming to provide people with the information they need to help care for our beautiful beaches and protect the marine life in our region, such as the endangered Maui dolphin," said EW’s coastal community facilitator Sam Stephens.

Last year, more than 800 people turned out during Waikato’s Seaweek and collected more than 500 kilograms of rubbish from beaches on the east and west coasts.

That rubbish collection – vital for keeping beaches clean and safe, and protecting marine life – will be held again this year. It will involve schools on both coasts gathering up litter and doing waste audits to see where the rubbish is coming from.

"Rubbish can kill dolphins and other marine life. We all need to better respect the marine environment so we can enjoy it and keep it safe for people and sea life," said Mr Stephens.

Besides tackling rubbish, the Waikato Seaweek partners are also putting a lot of effort into events designed to raise awareness of coastal issues.

On Sunday 1 March, Waikato University staff will present an Earth, Ocean and Environment Trail. People will be able to attend a talk in Hamilton and then stop at spots on the way to Raglan to hear more talks on environmental issues.

At Raglan itself that day there will be a Maui Dolphin Day exhibition next to the children’s playground and a Recycled Raft Race, where vessels made of recycled materials will battle it out.

On Thursday 5 March, there will be a free seminar at the Miranda Shorebird centre on the Muddy Feet project which is aiming to protect and restore the internationally significant Firth of Thames area.

"We encourage people to come along to these events to learn more about what they can do to help support our precious coastal environments. New Zealanders love the beach and the sea, and this is a great opportunity for people to learn more about protecting them."

Teachers can also take their classes on a free virtual field trip to the Goat Island Marine Reserve by visiting www.learnz.org.nz.

For more information on Seaweek in the Waikato visit www.seaweek.org.nz or call Sam Stephens on 0800 800 401.