ONE of the key messages to come from Sunday's Great Northern Clean Up was that cigarette butts are the scourge of our marine environment.
Eco Barge Clean Seas Inc event co-ordinator Christine Cleary said of the 40 volunteers who collected rubbish from Jubilee Pocket to Cannonvale, the majority found cigarette butts.
Volunteer Carol Clancy likened some areas to a "pigsty".
"It was unbelievable the things we found," she said.
The 2012 Great Northern Clean Up was run as a joint initiative between Eco Barge Clean Seas Inc and the Rotary Club of Airlie Beach.
Rotarian John Mol said this was about Rotary's continued involvement with the community in all aspects.
Eco Barge director Libby Edge said the event was a great way "to raise awareness on litter and our throw-away society, with the community coming hands-on to tackle that problem".
"Also, in a community like ours, all the litter washes out to sea and ends up in our oceans," she said.
Ms Cleary said the basic catch-cry would have to be 'prevention is better than cure'.
"If we can get the rubbish before it washes out to sea - even if we save just one turtle - it makes it all worthwhile," she said.
About three-quarters of a skip-bin was filled with rubbish as a result of Sunday's efforts, which Ms Edge described as a sign that "the community isn't aware of the connection between throwing away random litter and our precious marine environment".
"Walk that extra few steps to put your rubbish in the bin and if you see people littering stand up for our marine environment and ask them to put their rubbish in the bin," she said.
For more information or to register as a volunteer visit www.ecobargecleanseas.org.au.
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