ICCS 2013 preparations begin!

Preparations for the 2013 International Coastal Cleanup Singapore have begun! This will be the 22nd year of the programme and my 17th year coordinating coastal cleanups. Thankfully, some of the Zone Captains are decade-long veterans so it is an experienced team which is working with me.

An exhausting 2012 had many lessons
Last year, more than 3,500 volunteers from almost 80 organisations participated in the International Coastal Cleanup Singapore. They removed, categorised and counted 173,574 items of marine trash from almost 20km of shoreline. In just 90 minutes at the beach, volunteers put all this away in 2,880 trash bags weighing about 20 tonnes.

It is certainly a robust programme but with more new organisations joining in, it has required lots of energy and attention,and a strain on the volunteer coordinating team. So I’ve tweaked the way we will work this year.

Zone Captains and the ICCS date for 2013
I met Zone Captains yesterday and confirmed their renewed appointments (webpage updated). We are short of a few good hearts so the responsibility of recruitment has been highlighted. We have since been able to rope in a few people!

The cleanup date was confrmed and the good news is the official third Saturday of September coincides with a good pair of low tides. The (Sembawang) tides are:

  • 0557- 0.62m
  • 1238 – 3.25m
  • 1811- 0.48m

Sites such as PR6 and TM7 for which a very low tide is preferable, will be run in the afternoon when the tide is lower and receding., which is safer.

The ICCS 2013 Calendar
The calendar for 2013 was confirmed and now reads as follows:

  • Fri 01 Feb 2013 – Planning (ICCS Otters only)
  • Mon 18 Feb 2013 (after CNY) – recruitment and registration begins, announced on this blog and the ICCS mailing list (sign up to stay informed)
  • Fri 22 Mar 2013 – Site Allocation Exercise (ICCS Otters only): Review registrations and confirm site allocations
  • Fri 28 Jun 2013 – Workshop Prep & Site Allocation Exercise II (ICCS Otters only)
  • Wed 03 – Fri 05 Jul 2013 – Workshop Sessions 1-3: 7.00 – 9.00pm (with Organisers): training and consultation
  • Sat 27 Jul 2013 – Joint Site Recces (With Organisers at difficult sites)
  • Sat 03 Aug 2013 – ICCS Lecture (With Participants and Public)
  • Sat 10 Aug 2013 – National Day Cleanup (With Public)
  • Sat 21 Sep 2013 – ICCS (0557- 0.62m; 1811- 0.48m) (With Participants)

Operational changes based on our 2012 review was implemented, as follows:

Registration and Site Allocation

Registration will be a month-long exercise from mid-February. Site Allocation will only be announced a month after registration is open, in late-March, after a Site Allocation Exercise which we can complete in a single night.

ICCS Workshop Series

The workshop this year will focus only the problem of marine trash, operations and safety.

We will offer three weekday night sessions of two hours each instead of a single Saturday morning session in order to save everyone their Saturday!

The sessions will conducted in small groups to allow for greater interaction and questions.

Site Recces and Site Recce Reports

Site recces will only be offered to Organisers at tough sites. A single date will be offered to Organisers at these sites and is a low tide Saturday in July.

For most sites, Organisers will be able to consult adequate resources to prepare them for their recces – Site Recce Reports, photo albums of previous cleanups, marine trash data from previous years, and blog accounts.

Organiser’s responsibilities

Organisers will be strongly reminded that they are responsible for conducting their own site recces, and are responsible for their participants safety.

As usual, they will be provided the advise about operational points to take note of during site recces and be provided a risk assessment form to use.

Zone Captains conduct preliminary recces during the first half of the year in order to update their Site Recce Reports. After that time, beaches may be closed at the last moment for works or other matters, so it is up to Organisers to be updated and not be caught by surprise at a beach closure!

What about Marine Life?

The introduction to marine life lecture will be addressed only during the ICCS Lecture. This annual event will once again be offered to the public as well.

Prior to that the marine life powerpoint and various compiled videos will be made available to Organisers. Actually these are already available.

Site Buddies’ Lecture and Cleanup in August

The date of the ICCS lecture has been brought forward and will be conducted before the National Day cleanup. As a pair, these can be offered to the volunteer Site Buddies as training for the September cleanups.

Changes for the better
Operationally, ICCS was very demanding last year as the number of organisations is at its highest for all time. With many new Organisers, the work load becomes too heavy. And Corporate groups tend to change organisers every year and many fail to pass on their experience!

So when we evaluated matters last October, we were keen to implement changes. As it turns out typically, these changes will benefit Organisers too. Keeping matters simple and to the point will provide relief especially to first timers.

Half-hearted Organisers will be dropped quickly and early. I’d rather see participant numbers drop than be burdened by the ill-prepared. I also have little patience for “greenwashing“.

Organisers need to invest a certain amount of effort as participant safety and awareness is critical during a cleanup. We have made preparations easy with online materials as well as dates to meet us and tap our experience during the workshop, lecture and recce.

We are here to help Organisers conduct a safe, efficient and meaningful coastal cleanup. While spurred by the catastrophic pressures our marine life faces, our spirits are buoyed every year by passionate, dedicated Organisers who apply themselves.

Time spent with such individuals has been a joy indeed, and we look forward to meeting more of them once again this year!

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