Playing a role to protect our marine life

Rokiah Mahmud

In supporting with the 35th International Coastal Clean-up and to preserve marine life by keeping the beach environment clean and safe from pollution, a beach cleaning campaign was held by several governmental agencies, the private sector and non-governmental organisations (NGOs).

Among those contributing to the cause were the Department of Environment, Parks and Recreation (JASTRe), Progresif Sdn Bhd, Brunei Shell Joint Venture Companies (BSJV) including Brunei Shell Petroleum Co Sdn Bhd (BSP), Brunei LNG Sdn Bhd, and Brunei Shell Marketing Co Sdn Bhd (BSM).

Shahbirin bin Haji Ibrahim from Quality, Health, Safety, Security and Environment (QHSSE) of BGC said pollution is one of the worst things to happen to marine life.

“Marine life is biodiverse and plastics are its main enemy. Plastic can affect the ecosystem due to its slow degradation process.

“BGC has always been promoting recycling efforts by limiting waste disposal,” he said.

“We take the highest priority to ensure that marine pollution is mitigated as much as possible. We hope the effort could gradually make Brunei greener and prosper.” Shahbirin said BGC conducts beach cleaning campaigns on an annual basis to prevent marine pollution.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this year’s participation was limited, but still saw an overwhelming response from government agencies and the private sector including the Fire and Rescue Department as well as educational institutions- Jerudong International School, Universiti Teknologi Brunei (UTB) and Institute of Brunei Technical Education (IBTE).

Trash collected during a beach cleaning campaign. PHOTO: ROKIAH MAHMUD

BGC Managing Director John Cook said it was encouraging to see many volunteers, students, members of the local community, business partners and youth from several associations working together to keep beaches and the sea clean and safe.

“A rubbish-strewn beach has a huge impact on wildlife. Animals get entangled in litter or get caught in cans and plastic bags,” he said. “The repercussions are major and we recommend everyone to dispose their rubbish properly. Even if the bins are full, take the waste home and dispose it into your bins.

“We encourage everyone to go green and stop using plastic as a massive volume of it contributes to the overall pollution to our oceans and seas, posing a growing threat to marine life,” he said.

Through this initiative, environmental protection is everyone’s responsibility and BGC is committed to playing their part in sustaining the environment.

During a campaign organised by BGC, 190 bags of trash weighing 1,095 kilogrammes were collected.

In another beach cleaning campaign at Tanjung Batu Beach in Muara by Progresif, 137 bags of trash weighing over 507 kilogrammes were collected ranging from plastic waste to discarded baby diapers.

Acting Director of Environment, Parks and Recreation Martinah binti Haji Tamit said the beach cleaning campaign is a commendable initiative to foster a sense of shared responsibility to maintain a clean and safe environment.

Progresif CEO Hajah Nurul Haniah binti Haji Mohd Jaafar said the company has always been committed to pursuing progress for the environment, and one way to contribute is by cleaning up the country’s coastline.

According to a JASTRe research, 189,000 metric tonnes of waste are disposed at the Sungai Paku Landfill in Tutong District each year, and 16 per cent is plastic waste. If it is not tackled properly, the issue of plastic disposal can bring a negative impact to the environment and the people.

JASTRe stated that if the rate of plastic disposal remains or increases, there will be a need for a larger landfill area. Another issue is once plastic waste decompose, it will release toxic substances that can pollute the land or the underground water source. If the plastic wastes are burnt, it will release dioxins which can cause cancer.

The International Coastal Clean-up is a worldwide event first inaugurated by the Ocean Conservancy in 1986, marking this year as its 35th anniversary. It is celebrated on the third Saturday of September each year to engage citizens to remove trash and debris from beaches and waterways around the world, identify the sources and change behavioural patterns contributing to pollution.

Ocean trash or litter compromises the health of humans, wildlife and the economies that depend on a healthy ocean. Keeping oceans free from trash is one of the easiest ways to make the ocean more resilient, and gradually creating less trash by using proper trash disposal methods can help keep the oceans clean and free from debris as well as plastic waste.