PROTECTING the islands of Mersing from pollution should be a joint responsibility of all stakeholders, especially boat drivers, as they are the main transportation providers around the islands.
Reef Check Malaysia (RCM) sustainable tourism programme manager Atteleth Don Peris said tourism activities in Mersing mainly revolved around water activities such as snorkelling, island hopping and scuba diving.
“Safe operations and boat handling play a crucial role in avoiding boating incidents.
“Besides ensuring the safety of their passengers, boat drivers should also pay attention to the marine life around the island and avoid activities that may cause harm to them,” he said.
RCM recently conducted an awareness talk that involved representatives from local boat operators and government agencies, he added.
“The awareness talk was intended to increase the local stakeholders’ awareness of safety issues when they are conducting boating activities, especially when bringing visitors for water activities around the Mersing islands.
“The awareness talk was delivered by an expert with 30 years of experience in ship handling and operations,” he said, adding that the talk also shared some practical guidelines for implementing safety measures in boat operations.
The programme is part of a long-term RCM initiative that is supported by MISC Group through its marine biodiversity conservation programme, he added.
“This initiative aims to improve ocean health by supporting coral reef conservation, increasing reef resilience, and reducing plastic litter in our oceans.
“RCM has also conducted a monthly beach cleanup to address the issue of ocean waste that is washed ashore around the islands of Mersing,” Peris said, adding that the programme also received help from other NGOs and government agencies.The issue of ocean plastic pollution is a global concern and does not only occur in Mersing, he added.
“It can cause financial loss to the government as the cost of cleaning up is high, mainly when the pollution occurs on beaches with a high value.
“It could also trap and kill marine life besides damaging boat propellers,” he said.