NGO cleans up Rapang Beach

A volunteer collecting plastic waste at Rapang Beach in Pulau Besar, Mersing. — Filepic

THE Tengah Island Conservation (TIC) has collected more than six tonnes of waste that was washed ashore at Rapang Beach in Pulau Besar, Mersing.

TIC community engagement and environment awareness manager Mohd Alzam Mohd Affandy said the non-governmental organisation (NGO) collected the rubbish in September to mark International Coastal Cleanup month.

“The programme was conducted with Mersing District Council, involving 84 volunteers.

“We removed 4,870 plastic bottles, 317 glass bottles and 322 fishing buoys besides 608 sandals and shoes,” he told StarMetro.

Mohd Alzam added that this was the fourth year that TIC had organised the programme.

“Rapang Beach is important as it is one of the nesting beaches for sea turtles.

“There are tonnes of marine debris washed ashore every year, making nesting difficult for the sea turtles due to the risk of being tangled in the fishing nets washed ashore,” he said.

He added that TIC organised clean-up programmes every year with island residents and local councils to ensure the beach was clean and the sea turtle habitat was protected.

Johor National Parks Corporation director Taufik Bahar said the ICC programme was conducted at Tanjung Piai National Park.

He said there were sharing sessions with visitors and participants, adding that they would usually get volunteers to be part of the project.

“Tanjung Piai gets never-ending waste washed ashore in the mangrove areas.

“We are also in the midst of identifying the best ‘log boom’ to use in the open sea so that we can collect the floating waste and prevent it from polluting our shores,” he said.

Taufik added that the best method to reduce the amount of waste in the area was through frequent sharing sessions with locals on how the waste could impact the national park and their own environment.

Sultan Iskandar Marine Park Resource Management and Protection chief Nur Afifah A. Rahman said Johor Fisheries Department collaborated with the private sector and tertiary education centres to carry out its awareness programmes.

“ICC is our main annual event where we invite local islanders, the private sector and university students to join us,” she said.

Reef Check Malaysia chief operating officer Theresa Ng said her group collected 26,949kg of rubbish during ICC month.

“Nationwide, the programme involved 10,209 volunteers cleaning up 105 beaches.

“They managed to collect 39,453 plastic bottles, 34,789 cigarette butts and 29,298 plastic pieces.

“Some of the places that we cleaned up are Kampung Air Hujung, Semporna (Sabah) along with Pantai Morib Baru, Kuala Langat and Pantai Kelanang in Banting (Selangor),” she said.

Ng added that almost every state in Malaysia had a volunteer team cleaning up beaches and collecting data on what is retrieved from the sea.

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