In conjunction with World Oceans Day 2017, members of the Tropical Marine Science Institute of National University of Singapore; the International SeaKeepers Society, Asia and The Submersibles, have jointly pioneered an initiative to help sustain Singapore’s marine life. Titled “Our Singapore Reefs: Marine Clean Up and Coral Rescue”, the programme was held at Pulau Subar Laut, located within the Sisters’ Islands Marine Park, and involved the collection and documentation of marine debris, as well as coral rescue.
Covering an extensive area of 1200 sqm, 20 volunteer divers successfully removed 424 debris weighing over 72 kg, which included a car battery, a small anchor and trolley. Under the guidance of researchers from the Tropical Marine Science Institute, a second dive saw divers collecting 43 corals that were found dislodged from the reefs or colonies that were dying. The rescued corals were then relocated for safekeeping.
An essential outcome of the marine cleanup and coral rescue mission was the compilation of data, now available online on Project AWARE’s Dive Against Debris® citizen-science programme which contributes to the global effort to combat marine debris. As Singapore has yet to develop any ocean clean-up programmes, there is hope that the documentation of debris found in the area will enable government agencies to establish solutions and measures needed to reduce the amount of marine debris and ensure environmental sustainability.
Discussions are now underway with various agencies to remove the remaining larger debris in the area, with the expectation that the event, in association with the National Parks Board, will soon become a yearly affair with a wider support reach.
In a statement, Mr. Andrew Tan, the Chief Executive of the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA), acknowledges the conservation of Singapore’s marine biodiversity as a shared responsibility and a multi-prong effort on the part of the community government and industry. “It requires everyone to play their part. As with our efforts on land, we also need to inculcate a strong sense of environmental responsibility at sea. Members of the public can also be our eyes and ears on the ground. I would encourage all to download MPA or NEA’s [email protected] and myENV mobile apps that allows one to take pictures of anyone polluting our shores or waters and send them to the relevant agencies for necessary action.”
The MPA, a supporting partner of the event, is currently working with the Singapore Shipping Association to reach out to the wider shipping community in efforts to keep the waters clean and green.