In 2011, the Maritime Institute of Malaysia (MIMA) carried out a study with the assistance of the Malaysian Nature Society (MNS) to assess the cleanliness of Malaysia’s coastal areas by using the Clean Coast Index developed by MIMA. The 65-page report of this study is curiously interesting, and we have selected relevant excerpts, with permission from MIMA, to be published here in 4-parts.
Application of the Clean Coast Index for Cleanliness Assessment of Coastal Areas in Malaysia
By Roa’a Hagir, Mahmudah Ahmad Luthfi and Eric Chong
Malaysia’s once pristine white sandy beaches has overtime been contaminated by coastal litter. This is a global predicament that has clouded beaches around the world. Malaysia’s aim to become a fully developed country by the year 2020 envisions its people to have first class mentality as well as to become a high-income nation. Marine litter has much to do with attitude as it has to do with management. It is important that practices on solid waste management in Malaysia are benchmarked with other developed countries, to be able to customize effective practices in accordance to the local situation.
Trash could travel through water or air, making marine litter an international issue. International organisation like Ocean Conservancy that organised International Coastal Cleanup (ICC) has managed to bring much public awareness to the issue globally. Ocean Conservancy has managed to provide a compelling global snapshot of marine debris collected and recorded during the ICC conducted annually. Various initiatives have been taken to keep Malaysian beaches clean and pristine. For example on 25th September 2011, the Penang state government participated in the ICC programme at two popular recreational beaches – Pantai Robina and Pantai Bersih. Food packaging and plastic water bottles were the major garbage components found during the four-hour cleanup covering a 800m stretch of Pantai Robina and 1.2km of Pantai Bersih.
The Maritime Institute of Malaysia (MIMA) conducted a study on ‘Management of Coastal Litter’ in 2010, suggesting the CCI as a useful tool to measure the cleanliness of Malaysian coastal areas. As a follow-up, this study was carried out as a means to applying the CCI to measure coastal cleanliness in the country. However, as there was a lack of data availability on coastal litter in Malaysia; hence MIMA conducted several sampling surveys with the assistance from the Malaysian Nature Society (MNS). The sampling took place at selected coastal areas in Malaysia. These include Pantai Morib & Kelanang (Selangor), Pantai Desaru (Johor), Pantai Cenang (Langkawi), Pantai Balok (Pahang), Pantai Puteri (Malacca), Tanjung Tuan & Pantai Cermin (Port Dickson), Pantai Puteri (Sarawak), and Tanjung Tuan (Sabah). The surveys also indirectly assisted in providing public awareness to tourists present during the activity.
Marine litter in Malaysia has been placed under the purview of local authorities. However, solid waste management have been privatised under Solid Waste and Public Cleansing Management Act 672 on September 2011. Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin witnessed the signing of the concession agreement held at the Putrajaya International Convention Centre. At the event, Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin highlighted that under the Ninth Malaysia Plan (RMK9), the government spent about RM958.7 million to manage solid waste; and another RM303 million spent in 2010 alone This was one third of the total amount spent throughout the 9MP period. He added that the cost of solid waste management continue to strain the government, especially taking into consideration that the waste produced by the people had gone up from 19,000 tonnes daily in 2005 to 27,000tonnes a day at present times. With the privatisation of solid waste, it is envisaged that the government’s burden would be made lessen and the concessionaires could look for loans from the local financial institutions to buy new vehicles and machineries.
This study focused on plastic debris as an indicator for the application of the CCI due to the longevity of plastics life span before it degrades and the impact it imposes on the marine lives. The term ‘plastic’ here includes any artificial waste made, or partly made, of plastic, including nylon fishing lines, Styrofoam remains, plastic bags in all sizes, polyurethane sheets, bottles and bottle cap, cigarette box and outer cover. Plastic particles that are larger than 2 cm in size are included as the index numerator. Degradation of plastic waste is relatively unknown, with estimates up to hundreds of years. Marine lives face repercussion from debris as there have been records of deaths from entanglement or ingestion of debris.
Based on the established baseline CCI for the sampled recreational sites, Pantai Cenang in Langkawi recorded the lowest index at 1.08 indicating that the beach is very clean from plastic debris at the coastal area. Meanwhile, Pantai Desaru in Johor has the highest index at 7.11 indicating that the beach has few pieces of plastic litter detected. The data could provide description of the condition of the coastal areas in Malaysian and hence become a tool to evaluate the cleanliness of these areas.
Next week: Which beach had the most cigarette stubs collected during the study – Pantai Cenang, Langkawi or Pantai Puteri, Melaka? For the answers and more interesting litter breakdowns, catch part 2 of the report.