ICCS Workshop for Organisers 2009

Dear Organisers,

the ICCS Workshop for Organisers will be held on Saturday 11th July 2009: 8am – 12pm at the Department of Biological Sciences, NUS.

We hope we will be able to help you manage an effective cleanup and look forward to catching up with you as well.

Please register here: tinyurl.com/iccs-workshop2009. We need to know the number coming for the venue choice, catering and your topical preferences.

The workshop will include these sessions:

1. Updates and progress of the ICCS family
I will discuss the progress we have made as a group and provide you with updates about marine sites, debris issues and conservation news at the local
and international scene which are of relevance.

2. Operations discussion – learning from each other
We will break into small groups for an effective discussion about operational procedures and tips with your very experienced Zone Captains.
You will get to contribute to the discussion (we are eager to hear from you), clarify doubts and learn from each other. We opted for the small group as we found people asked more questions this way.

3. Issues and resources
We will discuss the marine debris issue, the link to daily living and introduce some tools to help communicate these messages to participants to being about a more meaningful cleanup. You can copy the updated powerpoints and videos (bring a thumbdrive) or download them later.

We are looking forward to seeing you next month!

UNEP – Marine Litter: A Global Challenge


Click to download.

Press release:
UNEP Head Calls for World-Wide Ban on Pointless Thin Film Plastic Bags

“Washington DC/Nairobi, 8 June 2009 – From discarded fishing gear to plastic bags to cigarette butts, a growing tide of marine litter is harming oceans and beaches worldwide, says a new report.

The report, the first-ever attempt to take stock of the marine litter situation in the 12 major regional seas around the world, was launched on World Oceans Day by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) and Ocean Conservancy.

Achim Steiner, UN Under-Secretary-General and UNEP Executive Director, said:

“Marine litter is symptomatic of a wider malaise: namely the wasteful use and persistent poor management of natural resources. The plastic bags, bottles and other debris piling up in the oceans and seas could be dramatically reduced by improved waste reduction, waste management and recycling initiatives”.

“Some of the litter, like thin film single use plastic bags which choke marine life, should be banned or phased-out rapidly everywhere-there is simply zero justification for manufacturing them anymore, anywhere. Other waste can be cut by boosting public awareness, and proposing an array of economic incentives and smart market mechanisms that tip the balance in favor of recycling, reducing or re-use rather than dumping into the sea,” he said.

The report’s findings indicate that despite several international, regional and national efforts to reverse marine pollution, alarming quantities of rubbish thrown out to sea continue to endanger people’s safety and health, entrap wildlife, damage nautical equipment and deface coastal areas around the world.

“This report is a reminder that carelessness and indifference is proving deadly for our oceans and its inhabitants,” says Philippe Cousteau, CEO of EarthEcho International and Ocean Conservancy board member. “Offered here are more than mere facts and figures. The time for action is now, and true change will require taking a bold and courageous stand. There are solutions that everyone, everywhere in the world, can adopt to make a positive difference for our water planet.”

Plastics and cigarettes top the “Top Ten” of marine debris

Plastic – especially plastic bags and PET bottles – is the most pervasive type of marine litter around the world, accounting for over 80 per cent of all rubbish collected in several of the regional seas assessed.

Plastic debris is accumulating in terrestrial and marine environments worldwide, slowly breaking down into tinier and tinier pieces that can be consumed by the smallest marine life at the base of the food web. Plastics collect toxic compounds that then can get into the bodies of organisms that eat the plastic. Global plastic production is now estimated at 225 million tons per year.

Plastics can be mistaken as food by numerous animals, including marine mammals, birds, fish and turtles. Sea turtles in particular may confuse floating plastic bags with jellyfish, one of their favorite treats.

A five-year survey of fulmars found in the North Sea region found that 95 percent of these seabirds contained plastic in their stomachs. Studies of the Northeast Atlantic plankton have found plastic in samples dating back to the 1960s, with a significant increase in abundance in time.

Smoking-related activities also receive top rankings when it comes to sources of marine litter. Cigarette filters, tobacco packets and cigar tips make up 40 per cent of all marine litter in the Mediterranean, while in Ecuador smoking-related rubbish accounted for over half of the total coastal litter ‘catch’ in 2005.

“The ocean is our life support system – it provides much of the oxygen we breathe, the food we eat and climate we need to survive – yet trash continues to threaten its health,” said Vikki Spruill President and CEO of Ocean Conservancy. “The impact of marine debris is clear and dramatic; dead and injured wildlife, littered beaches that discourage tourism and choked ocean ecosystems. Marine debris is one of the most widespread pollution threats facing our ocean and it is completely preventable.”

Continue reading

Discussing the ICCS programme at the JGI symposium

“The Jane Goodall Institute Singapore presents “A Vision for Hope”, a daylong celebration of how personal action can be a substantial and positive force for making the world around us better.” – webpage

ICCS will be discussed there in two workshop sessions.

“Nurturing the International Coastal Cleanup Singapore (ICCS) programme – how a small group of volunteers manage the largest and longest running environmental programme in Singapore,”

By N. Sivasothi.

Abstract – The International Coastal Cleanup is a marine debris data-gathering exercise which has been conducted in Singapore for almost two decades. A growing interest in the environment has seen a surge in participation from about 2,000 to 3,000 annually, and a growing corporate component.

The small group of volunteers that coordinate the programme (the ICCS Otters) coped with the immense strain by maintaining a zen-like philosophy of sustainable management. Critical in managing the larger numbers were web2.0 tools, and there was a greater demand for start-up assistance unlike the past. We had to battle misinformation and prevent groups from reducing the event to a mindless cleanup that derived few lessons for daily life.

Besides the philosophy of the group that has nurtured this long-term programme, I will discuss the various factors including the web2.0 tools and old school methods that enabled this programme to grow from year to year.

About the speaker – N. Sivasothi has contributed to research, education and conservation in Singapore for some two decades since he first joined the National University of Singapore. Though very practical, he is a passionate and engaging speaker and a web2.0 advocate. All this while, he has run various nature, environment and heritage programmes for the public with the help of a small but merry band of dedicated volunteers from The Habitat Group and since 1999, the Raffles Museum Toddycats.