07 January 2013

Where does garbage from ships in Singapore go?

Today, I learnt how garbage from ships in Singapore is managed!
Thanks to CE MPA Lam Yi Young and Joanne Fang and colleagues for a most educational tour of our port and the new MPA Singapore Maritime Gallery.


We had a look at one of the many Garbage Collectors that patrol our port and visit every ship to collect garbage, provided free as part of the port services. This is something that is not very well known as indicated by this letter to the press in 2011 suggesting that litter that washes up on our shores come from ships in our waters.
In addition, MPA has contractors with boats that do nothing but pick up floating garbage in the sea. MPA also provides services to ensure proper disposal of oily and chemical wastes from ships as explained in this letter in 2010.
Such efforts to keep Singapore's waters clean are probably one reason why we still have amazing shores very close to heavily industrialised coastal uses. One example is Cyrene Reef which lies in the middle of an industrial triangle. I'm glad to have had a chance to share Cyrene with MPA last year.
Sadly, litter comes from all kinds of places and not just ships. Marine litter is a never ending issue. No matter how hard we try, there's always lots of litter. International Coastal Cleanup Singapore is a volunteer group that deals with this and their results for the 2012 cleanup shows some data on sources of the litter found on our shores.
During the tour, we learnt all kinds of other things including about this instrument that still takes readings of the sun and stars as old seafarers used to. But much more accurately. The vessel we were on is the one that maps out Singapore's waters and comes up with the navigation maps that we all use to find our way safely.
At the end of the sea tour, we stopped by at MPA's new Singapore Maritime Gallery which showcases Singapore's port and maritime history and current activities.
The Gallery starts with a literally sweeping introduction!
There's all kinds of interactive displays to highlight some little know facts such as how almost everything we use and consume comes via ships!
Here's more examples of these things.
What goes on inside a container? Who could imagine that some clothing are transported in racks so they don't get folded or wrinkled!
There's also lots of examples of Singapore's shipbuilding industry: from big ships to oil rigs and even ice-breakers! The models are exquisite and most are provided by the shipbuilders themselves.
There's a simulation of what goes on in a port control centre, kind of like an airport control centre. It's a big job managing one of the world's busiest ports! At any one time, there's 1,000 ships in our waters.
There are also displays on the green aspects of shipping and efforts made to minimise the impact of shipping. In terms of carbon emissions, it seems shipping turns out to be the least impactful form of transport.
On the ship simulator, Siti takes us on a wild ride on a rainy day on a speed boat! The Gallery is a great way for Singaporeans to learn more about our maritime heritage and the continued importance of the sea to our daily lives.
There's also a kids activity area. On the drawing panel, somehow, we created a picture of a giant octopus eating a ship. We ended the day with a lovely lunch at a new cafe at Marina South Pier. Thanks to CE MPA, Joanne and all friends at MPA for a great learning experience.
It was a gorgeous blue sky day and I got rare views of our beautiful islands. Such as Kusu Island juxtaposed against the main business district on the mainland.
Kusu Island and its amazing reefs are just 15 minutes away by fast boat from the mainland!
Sadly, as we rounded the corner, I noticed there is work on the seawalls at Kusu Island involving a huge barge inside the seawalls. Oh dear. I hope it doesn't affect the rich reefs that are found inside the seawalls and just outside the seawalls. Here's our last visit to these reefs in June 2012.
I missed the MPA notice about these works. While MPA posts notices of works on our coast, this is mainly as safety warnings to seafaring users. Not all coastal works are done by MPA. Kusu Island, for example, is managed by Sentosa Development Corporation.
Repair and restoration work to existing rock bund at Kusu Island
from Port Marine Notice No. 185 of 2012 dated 21 Dec 2012

With effect from 24 Dec 2012 to 31 Mar 13, at Kusu Island, 24 hours daily including Sundays and Public Holidays.
The repair and restoration works will entail sorting, leveling and pitching of existing rock bund. The works will be carried out by excavators from the landward side and the materials for the restoration works will be provided by the work barges. A safety boat will be deployed in the vicinity of the working area to warn other craft to keep clear of the operations. Any enquiries relating to the project can be directed to Mr Kelvin Teo, the Project Manager at Tel: 9023 7744 (email:  teokelvin@oung.com.sg).

During the sea tour I also noticed that floating security barriers have been put up along the Sentosa shoreline by the Marine Police.
Here's a closer look at the barriers put up near the natural shores at Tanjung Rimau, Sentosa. Fortunately, this site is monitored by TeamSeagrass so we should have some data on whether the barriers are affecting the natural shores there.
Just before we left, at the Pasir Panjang Ferry Terminal we noticed flocculation from the reclamation work going on at the massive Pasir Panjang Container Terminal project.
There's lots going on in our waters and it takes everyone working together to try to find the best way to manage our marine biodiversity well.

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