JOHOR BARU: Mersing District Council (MDM) will use the RM10mil allocated under the national Budget 2021 to implement an integrated waste management system for its islands.
The allocation is also for islands in Terengganu.
MDM president Nor Azmi Amir Hamzah said the move would help to reduce harmful effects on marine life off the Mersing coast.
“Currently, there is no formal waste management system and putting a system in place will certainly help protect the islands’ ecosystems, ’’ he said.
Nor Azmi said it was vital to reduce the amount of solid waste especially plastics polluting the sea as they harmed marine creatures including endangered species like sea turtles.
He said Tengah Island Conservation team had in 2018 and 2019 collected about 24 tonnes of waste from the beaches and waters around Pulau Tengah.
He highlighted that there were cases of sea turtles ingesting plastic and dying or drowning after being caught in plastic, ropes and discarded nets.
He said fish and birds would also eat the microplastics and suffer harm.
He stressed that food waste flowing into the sea would create an imbalance to the ecosystem, making it unnatural and harmful to marine life.
“We are looking to turn food waste into compost for growing fruits and vegetables under the integrated waste management system, ’’ he elaborated.
He said sewage or any human organic waste discharged into the sea would also stimulate algae growing in corals.
This, he said, harmed the corals that were the habitat for marine life.
Nor Azmi pointed out that currently there were no proper methods used by resort operators or islanders when it came to disposing waste.
He said the methods varied, from discharging sewage directly into the sea, using septic tanks or technically advanced treatment systems circulating reusable water.
He noted that some resort operators would either bury food waste or turn it into compost while recyclable solid waste such as tin cans would be sold to mainland buyers.
“Others will hire contractors
to dispose of the non-recyclable solid waste on the mainland and some may burn the waste, ’’ he said.
Nor Azmi said once the integrated waste management programme was implemented, it would create jobs for the islanders too.
He said islanders could generate revenue by selling wastewater (grey and black) for reusable water used for flushing or irrigation to resorts.
He added that MDM regularly organised clean-up activities such as beach and seabed cleaning with the local community.
Among the non-governmental organisations involved include Trash Hero Malaysia, Trash Hero Malaysia Mersing Chapter, Reef Check Malaysia as well as the Fisheries Department.
There are 93 islands in Mersing district.
Of this, five islands are inhabited, namely Pulau Tinggi with 96 people, Pulau Besar (76) Pulau Sibu (341), Pulau Aur (112) and Pulau Pemanggil (80).
There are 21 resort and chalet operators in the district.
Located about 130km from Johor Baru, Mersing town is one of the two towns on the eastern part of Johor (the other is Kota Tinggi) and lies on the main trunk road connecting southern and eastern Johor to the east coast of Pahang, including Kuantan.