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Happy New Year from Ocean Crusaders

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What a year 2018 has been for Ocean Crusaders.  I recently looked back at some photos from the start of the year, and what we do today compared to just 12 months ago is astounding.  This time last year we had just started building our new boat ‘Salter’ and since she was launched, she has done some serious work and helped us grow immensely.  We had also just got our new workshop in Hemmant and already we are looking at doubling its size.

The biggest highlight of the year was featuring on ABC’s War on Waste.  That changed Ocean Crusaders forever.  If you haven’t seen it, look up ABC iView and look for the first episode. You will see Craig Raucassel on an Aquayak Kayak paddling into the Yarra River and then see Cleanwater Group’s Vacuum which we call Snuffleupagus.  Wow that vac does some work.

Our team has grown too.  We have more people playing more roles and the early signs of 2019 will see even more expansion of our team as we spread across the country and take on more roles.  We also launched Ocean Crusaders into Sweden (Annika’s home country) and it has taken off over there faster than we ever took off here.

We’ve added more clean ups in 2018 with us joining up with 4WD Queensland’s annual Fraser Island Clean Up and that was one of the highlights of the year with the 4×4 clubs providing 900 volunteers to clean the beach.  We did the audit on the debris and were lucky to keep up with nearly 7 tonne arriving on our doorstep in just 6 hours.  We’ll be back there in 2019 with a bigger and better operation.

There is so much I could write about here but I will keep it short.  The bottom line is that we grew and so did the quantity of debris removed.  In 2017 we removed just over 21 tonne of debris with 473 people attending our events in the Brisbane and Sunshine Coast Areas.  12 months later and we have removed a whopping 55 tonne of debris and had 2230 people involved in our events.  I can’t know for certain but I reckon we could claim that we have grown more in 2018 than any other environmental charity in Australia.  Even if we haven’t, I am astounded at what we have achieved and it all comes down to our team and our volunteers.  I won’t name them all as this would be way too long but a very special thanks to everyone who has played a part in our year and helped us achieve what we have.

And of course a very special thank you to all of our commercial sponsors and supporters.  Funding helps us do what we do and without the grants and sponsorships we have been so fortunate to get, we wouldn’t have been able to achieve what we have.  I won’t name them all however I will drag out three names that have helped OC take off from the very start.  The Sunshine Coast Council has enabled us to to grow more than anyone else.  The contract we have with them enabled me to quit working for someone else and start spending all my time on OC.  We continue to have a great relationship with them and are forever in their debt for giving us a start.  And Unitywater, another part of the Sunshine Coast have become an incredible sponsor of our Paddle Against Plastic campaign.  Their ongoing support helps us continue what we do best.  And the third name I will bring out is Aquayak Kayaks.  When we approached them to provide some craft for our event on the Yarra, little did I know the passion behind this business.  We now have a full fleet of Aquayak Kayaks here in Brisbane courtesy of their generosity with a new fleet in the making in Melbourne.

2019 is looking like a bumper year and we have so much in the pipeline.  St Helena Island and Moreton Island are two new events and considering St Helena sold out all 200 tickets so quickly, it shows how much the community is responding to what we do.  Tickets will go on sale for Moreton in the early weeks of the year and you will need to be quick as I know it will prove extremely popular.  We’ve also strengthened ties with the amazing Tangaroa Blue who run the Australian Marine Debris Initiative Database.  Part of that is that we will be helping them with the Orpheus Island Clean Up in April, yes the island north of Townsville.  We’ll also be back in Melbourne for more events and we aim to launch into Sydney as well.  And stay tuned as there is something brewing in the West.  And of course we are off to Fiji in March as well and hoping to get back to Phuket in October as we take OC to the world.

The biggest thing for 2019 though will be the official launch of our Cleaning Station System, the world’s first of it’s kind we believe.  These simple cabinets will facilitate the community to clean up their own environment and educate all the time, whilst providing data we can use for real change.  Stay tuned as it will likely lunch in the next week.

And of course, we have a goal for 2019 and that is to crack 100 tonne.  With the team we have and all of our wonderful volunteers, I know we can do it.  It might be scary to some that we can find 100 tonne to remove, but for us it’s about getting it out.  How it got there and who did it is something we can all argue about, but here are two things you can think about as you see in the new year.

  • We pulled out over 200 trolleys from the waters – If you don’t put your trolleys in the rack then they are easy prey for those that have ulterior motives.
  • 50% of plastic bags that end up in the ocean come from land fill……if you buy it, even if you do the right thing, it can all go seriously wrong.  Don’t blame other people until you can honestly say that you are doing everything perfectly.  I know this is harsh but we have to wake up to ourselves and realise that we must all improve, even myself.

Be positive about the situation, we are starting to turn the tide.  We will win this WAR ON WASTE.

Thanks again to everyone who played a part and I look forward to seeing you all at events across Australia and the world in 2019.




Ian Thomson

Founder / Managing Director