Shalise the Ocean’s Eco-Warrior

With the recent rise of the issue of sea pollution, humanity is starting to re-think about how we are going to save it before it gets any worse. Many eco-warriors are out on the beaches cleaning up the mess we have made.  Fishing lines are one of the biggest marine debris pollutions in the ocean and 11-year-old Shalise Leesfield spends her time collecting them and discarding them in an appropriate manner or reusing them.

“I wanted to spread the word to as many people as possible so we can all join together to help fight for the marine animals and our beautiful ocean.”

She has fought really hard to install fishing line collection bins in her own town and has also now been granted by the Environmental Protection Act funding so that she can continue to install fishing line bins in the local region towards the end of this year.

At the moment Shalise is working on a fundraising project where she will use the collected fishing line from her bins to make bracelets and all money collected will be donated to marine conservation.

The idea behind the bracelet is to  “wear the fishing line bracelet on your arm, to keep it out of the ocean and the marinelife safe from harm.” 

“Fishing line is one of the most harmful things that gets washed into the ocean because it is strong and invisible in the water. It is also a problem as it takes up to 600 years to break down in the ocean. Sea turtles, marine mammals and even seabirds can be severely injured or die from entanglement in discarded fishing line or plastic.     

With this in mind, I spent the weekends documenting the fishing line I found and took the reports and photos into my local Council and asked if I could install some fishing line collection bins in our town.  I was over the moon when I received a letter giving me the approval to install 2 tackle bins at some of the popular fishing spots in Lake Cathie. 

Each week I recorded how much line I was collecting.  I sent this information into the council to show how successful they were, as my plan was to expand the fishing line bins over the Hastings.  Last month the State Government announced that I will be getting part of an Environmental Litter Grant to fund the installation of additional fishing line collection bins, a local ranger and signage around our community.  I will be meeting with the council heads in July this year to discuss the budget allocation and the locations of the fishing line bin expansion. 

Although fishing lines are a huge problem for the sea, single use plastic was also something I came across way too often so I decided to host my own ‘Clean Up Australia Day’.  It was so fantastic to join in with the locals and it shows that by working together we can make a real difference to help keep our oceans clean and keep Australia beautiful.  I actively clean the beach and lake areas in my town every weekend and pick up as much rubbish as I can find.  Since plastic doesn’t break down naturally, things that have a useful life of just a few minutes can pollute our ocean for hundreds of years.

But luckily, we can take action by reducing, reusing and recycling to keep rubbish out of the ocean in the first place.  By changing our own habits and replacing them with reusable items or more sustainable materials, we can slow the flow of plastic pollution.

Being a global activist is so important to me and I love spreading the message to as many people as possible all over the world about how we can help save our amazing planet from pollution. I really believe that together the youth of today can make it happen, one step at a time. In previous generations, there was a feeling that when you were young, you were a bystander, an adult-in waiting, but today because of technology, we have the confidence and can get our message out there and try to change the world. “

In October this year, she will be filmed and interviewed by Philippe and Alexandra Cousteau from EarthEcho which is an International organization founded on the belief that youth have the power to change our planet. Their mission is to inspire young people worldwide to act now for a sustainable future and Shalise will be attending their STEM conference in Melbourne this year also.

Shalise also sings, she wrote and composed a song about our ocean and her work. “The words I wrote are close to my heart and I wanted to sing it so I could help inspire as many people as possible all over the world with my message about saving the ocean and our planet.”

The full version of the song is on Shalises’ YouTube Page https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCD2x1FWIFAUzS8-pfWc8MpA

If you would like to keep up with  Shalise and her work, follow her on Instagram, @shalisesoceansupport.