Tender loving care for Pasir Ris 6 beach by the environmental stewards of Bukit Batok Secondary School

On 09 Apr 2016, 56 participants (44 students, 6 alumni and 6 teachers) of Bukit Batok Secondary School (BBSS) hit the beach for 90 minutes from 8.30am for a year-round coastal cleanup and removed 584 kg of trash from Pasir Ris 6 beach. This non recreational beach west of Pasir Ris Park is host to marine life and is not cleared regularly of marine trash.

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This was the third coastal cleanup BBSS conducted at PR6 this year, after the earlier cleanups of 20 Jan 2016 and 27 Feb 2016. They plan three more in July, August and September – the last will be part of the annual data-gathering International Coastal Cleanup Singapore. Isn’t this tender loving care for the marine environment and marine life at Pasir Ris wonderful?

BBSS’ cleanups at PR6 were carefully thought out. Mr Syam Lal Sadanandan, the Dean Normal (Technical) at Bukit Batok Secondary School wrote in November 2014 to ask for an opportunity to contribute to environmental protection. Emails were exchanged to prepare the group, fix dates and inform relevant agencies, before he and his fellow teachers met NE Zone Captain Yang Yi Yong for a recce of the site on 7th Feb 2015.

Ready for a series of safe cleanups, they conducted two on 14 Mar & 23 May 2015 but sadly September’s ICCS was cancelled due to the haze.

This year they are on track with three cleanups under their belt already, and have already relieved Pasir Ris 6 of more than a tonne of trash!

The continued and repeated efforts of small groups at a specific sites is extremely helpful for the protection of non-recreational coastal sites. So under the Year-Round Coastal Cleanup programme, we have tried to relieve sites of their marine trash load in a sustained but non-impactful manner:

The Year-Round Coastal Cleanup calendar at yrcc-cal.coastalcleanupsingapore.org
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The insult of marine trash on our shores is relentless. Certainly working on upstream issues is critical to the solution, and we pay close attention to those who champion this relentlessly in Singapore such as Zero Waste Singapore. In the meantime, we can help marine life immediately and directly. Thus we hope to encourage fieldwork-savvy groups to consider conducting more than one cleanup at a favourite site each year.

Sungei Pandan mangroves was a fairly recent site we turned attention to in 2008. It is no longer covered with a mat of plastic but we are not done yet. Some smaller sites nestled there are both tough sites to work in and sensitive sites we must be careful with. But we will persist and think of a future where none of this is necessary and marine life flourishes on our mangroves and shores in great health.

Meanwhile, the actions of organisers like the teachers of Bukit Batok Secondary School give me much hope!

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“Operation WE Cleanup” – 39 volunteers remove 403.5kg of trash from Lim Chu Kang mangrove [08 May 2016]

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Sun 08 May 2016 – 39 volunteers joined us early the morning for the “Operation WE Cleanup” at Lim Chu Kang mangrove. This movement is led by the Public Hygiene Council (PHC) to encourage Singaporeans to play a role in keeping our environment clean and we were glad that ICCS could support it!

Collectively, we removed a total of 403.5kg of trash (in 56 bags) over a 90 minute cleanup, leaving the beach looking so much healthier! There were lots of plastic bottles, straws, bags and styrofoam pieces of a variety of sizes. Where do you think they came from?

An exposed used syringe was carefully disposed – it is important that sharp objects be disposed properly and responsibly, to protect everyone who will handle the trash all the way to the incinerator. This is something we reinforce in every safety briefing prior to the cleanup – see Safety Advice for Participants on our website, which dates back to the 90’s!

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Medium trash load at Lim Chu Kang mangrove. I’ve found so many plastic straws within a small area!

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North-West Zone Captain, Adriane Lee.

During the cleanup, Adriane Lee chanced upon two mangrove pit vipers. Although venomous, like every other animal, they will not attack unless provoked. We kept our distance but encouraged everyone to enjoy the lovely view of the snakes on the tree. It certainly is important to be aware of our surroundings during a mangrove cleanup and watch where you place your hands and legs –points we cover in the safety briefing !

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The success of this and every other cleanup was due of course to our lovely team of volunteers who worked hard and were so responsive to coordination. It is a real joy to work with them and we are encouraged to organise more of these cleanups together!

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Happy volunteers in action – Part 1

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Happy volunteers in action – Part 2

Otterman shows how we work steadily on a patch of mangrove:
leave organics (including sand and mud) behind, and separate out glass”

Otterman sets up weighing stations with our lovely, obliging volunteers

During our Year Round Coastal Cleanups, we end with a debrief of the trash collected, type of trash and share information about the site, from its historical use to the present day and its conservation status. Our ICCS coordinator Otterman (N. Sivasothi), also identified ways in participants can reduce trash at home or at the workplace.

Sharing our experience with others is also important, he explained, as many would not believe the amount of trash that does settle on our shores in Singapore. We can all help by making small changes in our daily lives. No matter how small the effort might seem, collectively this can be significant!

Happy Singapore World Water Day everyone!

View 100+ photos on Flickr.

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Otterman giving a debrief at the end of the session.

Earth Day 2016 – Saving Gaia Beach Cleanup video (1 minute)

For Earth Day 2016, Mediacorp’s Saving Gaia team conducted a beach cleanup at Pasir Ris 6 and produced another short video. I love this as it features participants explaining why marine trash is harmful and simple steps we can take to make the planet a safer place for all creatures.

ICCS volunteers spread awareness about marine trash at the Asia Dive Expo 2016!

16 & 17 April 2016 – ICCS volunteers had a busy weekend at the Asia Dive Expo (ADEX), the biggest dive expo in Asia, where we were invited to be part of the Singapore Pavilion.

“Organised by the Blue-Green Alliance and National Parks Board, the inaugural Singapore Pavilion celebrates the Sisters’ Islands Marine Park, Singapore’s first marine park, and showcases key milestones in Singapore.” [UW360]

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We were certainly glad to see friends from NParks, the Nature Society (Singapore) and Team Seagrass at the Singapore Pavilion.

Armed with newly-designed posters and photos, volunteers Liwah and Delicia arrived bright and early on Saturday morning, ready for action!

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The setup team on Saturday morning – Wong Liwah and Delicia Cheong!

The information at the ICCS booth was news to many members of the public. They were surprised at the amount of trash on our non-recreational beaches such as Tanah Merah 7. And that inspired some to take action immediately, by joining us at the upcoming “Operation WE Clean Up” on Sun 08 May 2016 at Lim Chu Kang mangrove. How heartening!

At the expo, we met other like-minded individuals. David McCann is an environmental officer at Scuba Junkie, a dive resort in Sabah. It was inspiring to hear how they encourage their guests to participate in their regular beach cleanups and how they offer talks on marine trash, shark and reef conservation. Lovely work!

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Joleen Chan chatting with David McCann, of Scuba-Junkie.

Most of the ICCS Educators were new and we are delighted we have an Education Team! The training session the week before prepared them for their engagement with the public. It was rewarding for them to be able to share stories about marine life and the impact of trash in Singapore to a public who were surprised at extent of pollution right here in Singapore.

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ICCS volunteers in action.

Well done Delicia Cheong, Fathanah Binti Muhammad Saleh, Joleen Chan, Wong Liwah, Sean Goh and Nur Shaalihah!

Joys Tan
ICCS-IKEA Intern

Registration opens for the 25th International Coastal Cleanup Singapore (Sat 03 & Sat 17 Sep 2016)!

Announcement – ICCS 2016 Registration for Organisers is now open, and results of Site Allocation will be released at end-Apr, end-May and end-Jun 2016.

Greetings Organisers!

The International Coastal Cleanup is coordinated by the Ocean Conservancy in Washington DC, USA. Every the third Saturday of September, volunteers around the world rise with the sun to conduct a cleanup at shores and waterways with a difference – they collect, categorise, record and remove trash, and have done so since 1986!

In Singapore, ICC Organisers have facilitated the contribution of thousands of volunteers to the International Coastal Cleanup program in Singapore since 1992. And in 2016, it is the 25th year we welcome Organisers to lead volunteers to participate in this meaningful activity once again!

Dates and tides
Sites difficulty and recce reports can be reviewed at sites.coastalcleanupsingapore.org. Do review the evaluation of the site and examine photos and results from previous years to prepare yourself.

New Organisers can familiarise themselves with the operational needs of organising a cleanup at at the Organiser’s Page here.

Mark the dates – Sat 03 Sep 2016 (Mangroves) & Sat 17 Sep 2016 (Beaches)

The tidal heights in Singapore (Sembawang) are:

  • Sat 03 2016: 0800 – 0.9m; 0900 – 1.3m
  • Sun 17 Sep 2016: 0800 – 1.4m; 0900 – 1.9m

Thus mangrove and beach cleanups will be held two weeks apart to allow mangrove workers a wider area of access at their site. Beach cleanups on the 3rd of September must begin by 8.00am as usual, for the tide rises quickly during this full moon to more than 3.0 meters by midday.

Registration – Organisers can now register your groups for participation in September’s data gathering cleanup. Indicate your preferred sites and dates at registration.coastalcleanupsingapore.org.

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Site Allocations Exercise I – III
The ICCS team will conduct Site Allocations Exercises based on the Organiser’s experience with ICCS, earliness of registration, familiarity with the site, volunteer preparation, and site difficulty. The results of these exercises will be announced at the end of Apr, May and June and listed at status.coastalcleanupsingapore.org

Registration will be close thereafter.

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Workshops for Organisers in July
The workshop will conducted by the Zone Captains at NUS and are meant for Organisers and their assistants only. The workshop is critical for new organisers but also useful to veterans to participate and anyone who needs help in reviewing the site recce and safety assessment checklist.

There will be three small group evening sessions for you to chose from on Wed 13th July, Thu 14th July & Fri 15th July 2016. Simply indicate your intent during registration and we will confirm your attendance later. If July is inconvenient, indicate your available period and your Zone Captains will try to arrange a quick catchup session with you another time.

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Year-round coastal cleanups (YRCC)
You can also organize cleanups at any other time of the year if you wish – numerous groups have been making a difference this way at non-recreational sites throughout the year. Please see Year-Round Coastal Cleanup guidelines, and contact us accordingly.

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What about individual participation?
“Independents” are a highly valuable community of motivated individuals who sign up independently to participate in cleanups organised by ICCS. To be kept notified, join the mailing list by sending an empty email to iccs-subscribe@yahoogroups.com. This low volume list has less than 10 emails annually. Or keep a lookout for announcements of cleanups here.

Thank you for your interest in caring for the environment!

N. Sivasothi
Coordinator,
International Coastal Cleanup Singapore
http://coastalcleanup.nus.edu.sg

Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum
& Department of Biological Sciences
National University of Singapore

Mediacorp’s short videos about coastal cleanups in Singapore

Mediacorp, which started the Saving Gaia corporate initiative in 2007, and they began beach cleanups in 2014 at Selimang Beach. In 2015, they organised a year-round cleanup for World Environment Day as well and will do more in 2016.

Each video was short, yet conveys clear messages about marine trash and what we can do to battle the problem. These interstitials were aired numerous times on various television channels and helped to raise awareness of the issue, in addition to the hard work on the shores.

Well done, Mediacorp!

Mediacorp Saving Gaia Beach Cleanup at Tanah Merah 6 (Sep 2015)

Mediacorp Saving Gaia Beach Cleanup at Pasir Ris 6 (Jun 2015)

Mediacorp Saving Gaia Beach Cleanup at Selimang Beach (Sep 2014), see Facebook.