13 August 2014

"Action Plan to Reduce Marine Trash in Singapore" by Green Future Solutions

An "Action Plan to Reduce Marine Trash in Singapore" has been proposed by Eugene Tay of Green Future Solutions. I am deeply grateful to him for leadership on this heartbreaking issue.
Here's what I saw at Punggol Beach this morning. Which highlights key points in Eugene's Insights on Marine Trash in Singapore. This part of Punggol shore is probably cleaned regularly, so the trash is probably very recent.

Among the potential sources of marine litter in Singapore that Eugene outlined is: "Litter in the canals and drains leading to the sea". There was trash next to this freshwater outlet to the shore.
 Here's what the shore looked like in front of this freshwater outlet.  Mostly small floating litter like styrofoam food packets and plastic drink bottles.
Floating trash end up among the boulders.
A closer look at the trash next to the freshwater outlet. It includes a large metal drum and what looks like a wooden pallet.
On the other side of the freshwater stream, more trash have been 'tucked' into the vegetation. Something that looks like a large round table.
And a big pile of planks and poles. It looks like the trash is being piled up, hopefully by the cleaners for eventual removal.
Another source of trash identified by Eugene is "Littering by beachgoers". Here's a nice spot to have a meal by the sea, but after enjoying the beach, we shouldn't just walk off and leave the meal packets and bags on the shore!
Did a family simply walk off leaving the toy and refreshments and the bag they came in on the shore? 
Another possible case of eat-and-run as the containers are clustered and above the high water mark, next to a log that looks like a handy sitting spot.
This was a make-shift net on a pole. Used by fishermen on the shore?
I saw several gloves 'hung' into vegetation at the high water mark. Also several gloves on the shore. The man I saw harvesting mussels on the shore was using such a pair. Are these gloves used by people who harvest on the shore?
 There was also trash related to the Seventh Month.
Near the  high water mark, a pile of cartons and bags of trash as well as a broken plastic chair.
I'm not sure what the cartons used to contain.
Towards the low water mark, piles of half burnt and unburnt offerings. Throughout the survey, I saw lots of pieces of half burnt offerings all over the shore.
There is also large trash that look like they come from industrial users. On the low shore, there were several large and medium sized plastic containers, not usually used by recreational shore users.
There was a large orange plastic road diver washed up on the boulders.
There was even something that looks like it was part of a beacon.
There were several large tyres on the shore. Some well encrusted, others brand new like this one.
On the living shores next to the jetty, some large drums have washed ashore.
A closer look at the floating blue drum.
There was also a half flattened drum, next to it, an empty rice bag.
There were indeed, a lot of empty rice bags of various brands. This rice bag has just floated up with other floating trash.
Another rice bag.
Some rice bags have been on the low shore for a long time.
There were also many gunny sacks. Do these bags and sacks come from the coastal fish farms near Pulau Ubin? Today, every business and household on the mainland and every ship parked in port is provided with daily door-to-door trash collection. But all coastal fish farms licenced by AVA are NOT provided with a similar service.
Some trash appears to be deliberately dumped on the shore. This looks like a part of a sofa or large seat. Did it float up or was it dumped on the shore?
There was a large heavy object near the Punggol Jetty.
A closer look at the object. I'm not sure what it is. But it certainly doesn't float. I couldn't even budge it. Was it dumped off the jetty or a boat parked next to the jetty?
Right at the steps to the jetty, some orange netting and a strange arrangement of black things that look like stone. What is going on?
Throughout the beach at regular intervals, there were several clusters of bagged trash well above the high water mark.
More neat piles of bagged trash above the high water mark. I hope this is done by the cleaners and that they will be eventually removed for proper disposal. Hopefully soon, before the bags accidentally fall into the sea and float away.
This part of Punggol shore is probably cleaned regularly, so the trash is probably very recent.

On shores which are not regularly cleaned, the trash buildup can be heartbreaking. Such as Chua Li San's recent finds during the annual clean up of Lim Chu Kang mangroves by International Coastal Cleanup Singapore.

Eugene has highlighted that among the "Key Barriers to Reducing Marine Trash in Singapore" is 
a lack of government coordinated efforts and enforcement:
  • Minimal efforts by the government agencies (NEA, NParks, AVA, MPA and PUB) in studying the sources, amount and type of marine trash (only ICCS is providing data)
  • NEA is in-charge of clearing waste from public beaches, drains, waterways, and coastal parks, but there seems to be no government agency in-charge of working with the various agencies to set holistic policies to reduce marine trash
  • Lack of proper waste disposal infrastructure for fish farms and enforcement regime
  • Lack of enforcement on illegal waste discharge from ships
Among Eugene's recommendations in his "Proposed Action Plan to Reduce Marine Trash in Singapore"  is to "appoint a dedicated government agency to lead in addressing marine trash".

I totally agree! Marine trash has literally fallen between the cracks, and a Whole of Government approach is needed to resolve it.

Eugene adds: "Since NEA is already looking at littering, waste disposal and public cleanliness, we would recommend that NEA be the lead agency to study the problem of marine trash and work with the various agencies such as NParks, AVA, MPA and PUB to implement holistic policies to reduce marine trash. The lead agency would study the sources, amount and type of marine trash and work with existing groups such as International Coastal Cleanup Singapore (ICCS) and Waterways Watch Society (WWS)".

I whole heartedly support Eugene's  "Proposed Action Plan to Reduce Marine Trash in Singapore"!

Read Eugene Tay's full "Proposed Action Plan to Reduce Marine Trash in Singapore".

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