22 June 2024

Plea for MPA to provide trash collection to vessels that use their piers

The recent oil spill highlights how marine litter means oil stays in the system for a longer time. Uncontrolled discharge of marine litter can thus make an oil spill worse.
Oiled litter at East Coast Park, 22 Jun 2024
Some of the oiled trash I saw today near Tanah Merah Ferry Terminal
In light of the recent Pasir Panjang oil spill that spread widely to many shores, I hope that the Maritime and Port Authority will consider providing vessels that use their piers/terminals ways to responsibly dispose of trash generated during the vessels' operation.

What happens to trash generated on ships and vessels in our waters?

Ships parked in port

MPA provides daily door-to-door trash collection for every vessel parked in Singapore port: a garbage barge goes to each vessel every day. Like the garbage truck comes to to every household and business in Singapore every day. In fact MPA had brought some of the marine community on a tour in 2013 to show us how it is done.

Vessels using MPA piers/terminals

It seems no facilities are provided at any of the piers/terminals under MPA's charge for vessels to responsibly dispose of trash generated during their operation. This includes huge ferries carrying hundreds of passengers from Pasir Panjang Ferry Terminal and Tanah Merah Ferry Terminal, work boats that operate out of Marina South Pier and West Coast Pier and bumboats at Changi Point Ferry Terminal. How about cruise ships? 
It is common to see lots single-use water cups washed up on beaches along the ferry routes. These are the water cups commonly given out at funerals. They are not commonly used by beach goers or the local boating or fishing community. But these single-use water cups are apparently given out to passengers on ferries. Today, during our survey of an East Coast Park shore affected by the spill, there were single-use water cups (lower row) as well as other kinds of litter that might have come from ferries. 
Clusters of single-use water cups are also often seen on the Seringat Kias artificial lagoon (Eagle Bay). Photo taken Apr 2014.
Similar trash seen on Pulau Tekukor which is not easily accessible by the public, so trash mainly come by sea. Photo taken Jun 2016

Other vessels

I hear anecdotal accounts that our navy ships do not bring their trash home. I am not sure what other marine authorities that operate vessels in our waters do with their trash, e.g., Police Coast Guard, Immigration and Customs boats?

Singapore fish farm trash

All the 100 or so fish farms licensed by Singapore Food Agency are NOT provided with daily door-to-door trash collection. They are expected to ship their trash back to the mainland often about 1-2 km away.
Marine debris at Pulau Ubin: Used bags of fish meal
Fish farms produce industrial quantities of fish and thus can be expected to produce industrial quantities of trash. It seems many fish farms use expired carbohydrates to feed their fish. These carbs come in plastic packaging: instant noodles, cookies, even pet food. More in "What do our farmed fishes eat?" 12 Mar 2015
Trashy Pasir Ris Park beach and fish farms nearby
This is the letter I sent to REACH in 2014 which compiles all the details at that point in time.

I hope the authorities will seriously look into closing these gaps.


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