Lim Chu Kang Beach recce for “Operation WE (coastal) Clean Up!”

25 Apr 2015 – In preparation for “Operation WE (coastal) Clean Up!,” an event in collaboration with the Public Hygiene Council (PHC), ICCS Zone Captain Adriane Lee and the ICCS-IKEA Intern headed down to Lim Chu Kang Beach for a recce.

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The low tide (0.8m) revealed trash throughout the entire mudflat. From plastic jerrycans, food containers and water bottles to styrofoam plates, these polymers were a constant sight throughout the habitat, amidst twigs and roots of trees. New pieces of trash were floating in the water, brought in by the incoming tide.

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The mudflat faces the Western Straits of Johor which see trash from numerous land-based sources deposited into rivers, as well as offshore fish farms. Accumulation of plastics and styrofoam in the habitat greatly impacts the biodiversity there, and devalues the beauty of a mangrove ecosystem.

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In the photo on the right, ICCS Zone Captain Adriane Lee demonstrates the appropriate footwear – shin-high water booties, for participants, if they wish to wade into the mud.

Despite the depressing sight, Adriane and I were pleasantly surprised by a family of four smooth-coated otters (Lutrogale perspicillata) in the water. They seemed to be engaged in a territorial dispute with dogs at the Police Coast Guard jetty.

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Of the guard dogs and otters.

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Apart from otters, there were signs of Sand-bubbler crabs (Scopimera sp.), a rewarding sight and reminder of why we conduct our coastal cleanups.

While chatting with an uncle who works with the coastal fish farmers, we found out that the beach was regularly cleaned by NEA. Two days before we visited the place, a team of cleaners had filled three lorries worth of more than 200 trash bags each – all to be sent to the incineration plant. Being so regularly cleaned, the habitat remained trashy from the constant recruitment.

Our participants on Sunday have food for thought – the origin of all that pollution, and how they can play a role in curbing the recurring trash load. We look forward to meeting them, and here’s to a meaningful Sunday afternoon at Lim Chu Kang Beach!

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Operation WE (coastal) Clean Up @ Lim Chu Kang Beach!

“Operation WE Clean Up!,” led by the Keep Singapore Clean Movement aims to encourage Singaporeans to reflect on the cleanliness of their environment. In conjunction with the movement, ICCS will be organising a coastal cleanup on Sunday, 3 May 2015: 4.00pm to 6.30pm.

Registration is closed, thank you to all that have registered!

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To read up more about “Operation WE Clean Up!,” please visit the Public Hygiene Council page.

Why Cleanup? In Singapore, our coast lines host innumerable amounts of biodiversity. Trash present in these areas impact our wildlife adversely, releases toxic chemicals and devalues the natural beauty of the landscape. Coastal cleanups are conducted by volunteers around the world to remove this trash, raise awareness of the plight of our oceans, and motivate us to rethink our habits in daily urban living towards sustainable practises.

Lim Chu Kang Beach is located in the Northwest of Singapore, next to Lim Chu Kang Jetty. It faces the Western Straits of Johor which see trash from numerous land-based sources deposited into rivers, as well as offshore fish farms. The mangrove is an area where trash accumulates which impacts the life there.

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Meeting Point: Participants can meet at the bus stop outside Kranji MRT (Bus code: 45139) and will be transported to the cleanup site at Lim Chu Kang Beach.

Bus pick up point

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Itinerary 

15.30 – Bus pick up at bus stop outside Kranji MRT (Bus code: 45139)
16:00 – Arrive at the end of Lim Chu Kang Road, unload all logistics from the bus.
16:15 – Briefing and identification of Trash Collection Point (TCP). Brief of wet weather plans (which is to carry on unless there is a lighting threat). Organise everyone into groups of 4, apply insect repellant, collect gloves, trash bags, and other required logistics.
16:30 – Cleanup begins
18:00 – Transportation of trash to TCP.
18:15 – End of clean-up. Trash is weighed and discussion/ reflection time.
18:30 – Participants clean up. Note that there are no recreational facilities nearby.
18:45 – Bus will transport participants from cleanup site back to Kranji MRT.

Things to note

  1. Transport to Lim Chu Kang Beach, gloves, trash bags and weighing scales are provided.
  2. You must wear hard-soled covered shoes or booties to to protect your feet from hazards.
  3. A change of clothes is recommended after a sweaty workout.
  4. Long pants are recommended to protect your legs from insect bites, but bermudas are fine.
  5. In the event of bad weather, we will continue the cleanup. The event will stop in the case of lightning threat.

Things to bring:

  1. Water bottle (with at least one litre of water)
  2. Hat and/ or sun block
  3. Reusable raincoat/ poncho (we will work in rain)
  4. Towel to wipe off sand and mud

Be prepared:

  1. Sleep early the night before
  2. Have a decent lunch – it’s hard work!
  3. Be punctual – we are unable to wait for latecomers; tide waits for no one!
  4. Refer to this recce report of Lim Chu Kang Beach for more information on the cleanup site.

Thank you for caring for our planet!

ICCS Zone Captain (NW & NE) recces of 15 sites in Mar 2015

Weekend of 07 & 08 Mar 2015 – ICCS Zone Captains and the Intern visited 15 different cleanup sites in the Northwest and Northeast zones to conduct preliminary recces. We examined four large sites in the Northwest on Saturday and 11 sites in the Northeast on Sunday. Certainly much work is needed to help our mangrove and coastal areas cope with the load of marine trash!

Sites examined:

Northwest Zone: Zone Captain Adriane Lee & Intern Becky Lee

  1. Kranji East mangrove
  2. Lim Chu Kang East mangrove
  3. Sungei Buloh West mangrove
  4. Lim Chu Kang beach and mangrove

Northeast Zone: Zone Captains Yang Yi Yong & Ng Kai Scene & Intern Becky Lee

  1. Sungei Loyang
  2. Pasir Ris Beach 1
  3. Pasir Ris Beach 2
  4. Pasir Ris Beach 6
  5. Sungei Tampines
  6. Punggol Beach 1
  7. Punggol Beach 2
  8. Sungei Seletar 1
  9. Sungei Seletar 2
  10. Selimang Beach
  11. Sembawang Beach

At Kranji East Mangrove in the Northwest, we were greeted by a truck load of trash.

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Discarded fishing nets are entangled amongst mangrove roots, and pulling them out, Adriane discovered a horseshoe crab trapped inside. He gently removed the animal and placed it back on the shore but it was no longer moving.

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At Lim Chu Kang East mangrove, the strandline was polluted with discarded nets, plastic bottles, plastic oil containers, tarp sheets, and of course – styrofoam.

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The situation at Lim Chu Kang Jetty:

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The mangroves were multi-colored, peppered with food containers, detergent bottles, beer cans, plastic bottles and styrofoam.

On Sunday, we began with Sungei Loyang at a very low tide which exposed the accumulated trash at that mangrove.

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Pasir Ris Beaches 1 and 2 are recreational beaches cleaned daily by professional cleaners. There tiny fragments of plastic and styrofoam littered the strandline.

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Our Northeast Zone Captains; Chen Kee, Yi Yong and Kai Scene!

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Plastics and styrofoam bits on our beaches are a common site. You can see this even on Pasir Ris Beach 2, a recreational beach cleaned daily by cleaners.

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Pasir Ris Beach 6 is adjacent to Pasir Ris Park and not cleaned daily by clears. there the trash load burden on marine life is higher

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Sungei Seletar presented an amazing scene – barely any land was left to be seen from under the trash cover.

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We wrapped up the recces for the weekend, with adamant spirits and determination boiling within us. The battle with marine trash will never end, but we hope as ICCS participants hit the shores and witness this pollution in Clean and Green Singapore, the reflection of our lifestyles and day-to-day habits will trigger action and encourage more environmentally-friendly practices. Together we can and MUST make an impact to protect our oceans.

New restrictions to some State Land sites – Zone Captains will inform Organisers

Last year, five of my students and an ICCS Organiser were issued a “stern warning” for trespassing on state land at Tanah Merah – you can read about it here. These signs certainly caught us by surprised as ITE College West (School of Engineering) and Nanyang Girls’ Boarding School had worked at Tanah Merah 7 for ICCS 2013 the previous week without incident.

These new signs are different from all others which have previously marked State Land – they promise that “Trespassers will be arrested”. And indeed several people have been served notice since.

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In response to queries about the incident, Singapore Police Force (SPF), the National Environment Agency (NEA) and the Singapore Land Authority (SLA) met to discuss a response. And thereafter, SLA offered to liase with SPF on behalf of ICCS for access to restricted State Land sites. We provided SLA a list of all sites at which our volunteers conduct coastal cleanups early this year and all was ready.

In the past couple of weeks, as we conducted recce trips, we put the mechanism to work. Informing SLA, they have relayed our requests to SPF who have granted us access each time. It has been a smooth process although it has put an end to spontaneous trips.

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New signs at Lim Chu Kang

Ground recces reveal just two more of our current sites are affected by the new signs in addition to Tanah Merah 7, namely Lim Chu Kang and Lim Chu Kang East – for now. For the upcoming international ICCS event in September, Zone Captains for these areas (Adriane Lee for North-West and Hannah Leong for Tanah Merah) will provide a Point of Contact to SPF via SLA and will have Organisers prepare a nominal list of volunteers complete with NRIC (or FIN) numbers.

Whatever the challenges SPF is facing along our coasts, this procedure ensures volunteer coastal cleanups along our shores are able to continue their fight against marine trash.

This Saturday, for the seventh year, I am organising a National Day mangrove cleanup at Lim Chu Kang. Permission has already been provided by SPF via SLA and I have nominal roll of volunteers against which we will take attendance – a quick exercise after which we return to the business of tackling marine trash, a loving gesture by a group of people in celebration of National Day.

Thanks to NEA, SPF and SLA for all the help!

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Photo by Sean Yap, 2013.

More than 1,500kg of trash cleared at Kranji East mangrove – data, blog posts and photo albums from ICCS 2013

The Kranji East mangrove cleanup was a motivating effort with many determined people coming together to do their bit for nature. Almost 150 people responded to the call and cleared more than 1,500kg of trash from this shoreline.

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The event generated quite a number of blog posts, which is simply lovely!

  • Joelle Lai’s pictorial, Raffles Museum News/Toddycats, 24 Sep 2013
  • Toddycat Jocelyne Sze’s busy day! Nature Rambles, 23 Sep 2013
  • Clarence the Independent joined us! klairens, 21 Sep 2013
  • Toddycat Germaine’s muddy blog! The Living Fossil, 22 Sep 2013.
  • Pearlynn’s cigarette lighter reflections! Reflections on Nature, 21 Sep 2013
  • Liyana’s fourth coastal cleanup! Caryota Confessionals, 21 Sep 2013

And there are photo albums too:

  • Photo Album 1 – link
  • Photo Album 2 – link
  • Photo Album 3 – link
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Celebrate our National Day with a mangrove cleanup @ precious Lim Chu Kang on Saturday, 10th August 2013!

Celebrate our National Day
with a mangrove cleanup
on Saturday, 10th August 2013!

Click to sign up by Wed 7th Aug 2013!

The pre-national Day Coastal Cleanup 2011 cleared more than one tonne of trash!

The Mission:
Lim Chu Kang mangrove is a beautiful and unique patch of unprotected mangrove in Singapore, facing the Western Straits of Johor. It is adjacent to a Police Coast Guard base and offshore, kelongs and fish farms unload their produce at the jetty for delivery to markets in Singapore.

Scientists have worked in this mangrove for decades and though it is but a small patch that remains, it is scientifically interesting and holds many stories about animal and plant life and heritage in Singapore. In 2008, the Sungei Buloh Master Plan revealed it would link up with the Lim Chu Kang mangroves.

The famous mud lobster mounds of Lim Chu Kang mangrove

The famous mud lobster mounds of Lim Chu Kang mangrove

Trash from the Johor Straits is regularly deposited on Lim Chu Kang beach and mangrove and since this is state land, and not used recreationally, the impact on marine life is battled through the efforts of various groups who take to the beach and mangrove during cleanups throughout the year.

A typical scene at Lim Chu Kang beach
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The removal of trash is tackled sensitively through the actions of small groups. To contribute to this exercise, I organise a pre-National Day cleanup annually in celebration of Singapore’s birthday and invite anyone who might want to come.

In 2011 sixty-four of us removed more than a tonne of trash in just over an hour! And in 2012, with just a week’s notice 40 of us cleared 669kg of marine trash in 83 trash bags!

All you have to do is sign up here by Wednesday 7th Aug 2013 to be part of a happy bunch!

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For a brief about marine life, marine trash and solutions for this problem, join us at the ICCS Briefing and Lecture a week earlier!


Itinerary:

  • 0745 – bus pick-up at Dover MRT and one bus-stop after Clementi MRT, along Commonwealth Avenue West Road
  • 0830 – reach LCK, distribute into sub-groups, apply insect repellent, collect gloves and trash bags.
  • 0845 – Briefing, identification of Trash Loading Point (TLP) and bus shelter, wet weather plan (carry on unless lightning threat)
  • 0900 – cleanup begins.
  • 1000 – Loading teams start moving trash out to TLP
  • 1030 – clean-up ends, weigh trash and discussion; Q&A
  • 1045 – participants clean up – note: no washing point, so bring small amount of water to wipe down.
  • 1100 – Bus returns to Clementi MRT then NUS – Note: help needed to wash gloves in NUS.
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The Clementi pick up point, one bus stop after Clementi MRT

Provided:

  1. Transport to site.
  2. Gloves.
  3. Trash bags.
  4. Weighing scales.

Be prepared!

  • Sleep early the night before and hydrate – this will affect your performance and enjoyment of the morning,
  • set your alarm to wake up on time – we can’t wait for latecomers (time and tide critical) and
  • have a decent breakfast – it will be a workout, last year 42 of us cleared >800kg of trash!

What you should bring:

  1. Covered shoes with hard soles – hard-soled booties are fine.
  2. Water bottle (at least one litre of water).
  3. Hat and/or sun block.
  4. Raincoat/ponco (we’ll carry on working in rain)
  5. Towel in a bag – to wipe off any sand and mud off you.
  6. Suggestion – dry fit clothes are suitable for this work. If you prefer cotton, a change of t-shirt will come in handy after a sweaty workout.
  7. Light pants will help protect your legs from insect bites (if you tend to get bitten!) as well as from the debris, but bermudas are fine.
  8. Water-proof your belongings.
  9. Some water to wipe yourself down with

Transport:

Registered participants who require transport can be picked up at these timings/locations (click for maps):

  1. 0740 – Bus stop at Dover MRT along Commonwealth Ave West (Bus stop no. 19031)
  2. 0745 – Bus Stop after Clementi Interchange (Bus stop no. 17181; note you must walk some 100m from Clementi MRT Station)

Note that the bus cannot wait at these locations so do come early.

Driving?
Meet us at Lim Chu Kang Road end (click for map) at 0830 where parking space is available.

The cleanup site at Lim Chu Kang mangrove

Happy National Day!

Pre-National Day Cleanup 2012 @ Lim Chu Kang Mangrove

Volunteers cleared 669kg of marine trash from Lim Chu Kang mangrove in 83 trash bags on Saturday. This is the fifth year we have conducted the cleanup in celebration of National Day.

This year, the volunteers responded with only a week’s notification and were well prepared. When we found little debris on the sandbank, we were able to fan into the mangrove proper and clear recent and embedded trash from the mud lobster mount system. This is best done sensitively but a small group so I was really pleased things turned out so well!

“Celebrating National Day in Lim Chu Kang mangroves!” By Jocelyne Sze, Nature rambles, 09 Aug 2012 [link

“ICCS Pre-National Day coastal cleanup @ Lim Chu Kang mangrove!” Purple Mangrove, 05 Aug 2012 [link]

Call to action on the ICCS News Blog,

“Equipment check – The Flag,” by N. Sivasothi. Otterman Speaks, 01 Aug 2012 [link]

Photo albums