The 2019 annual Reef Check survey for Malaysia has now ended with the completion of surveys in Pulau Aur and Pulau Pemanggil. These two surveys were done with the help of Marine Park officers. We recently conducted an EcoDiver training course with eight students from Universiti Malaysia Terengganu (UMT) as part of the university’s graduate employment enhancement programme. Reef Check Malaysia (RCM) is also honoured to be involved in building capacity for other Reef Check chapters in this region. In mid-September, RCM conducted an EcoDiver training course with Reef Check Brunei, which was just recently established. We’d like to welcome them into the growing network of Reef Check around the world! Over in Sabah, we conducted an EcoDiver training with 10 volunteers from the Kudat Turtle Conservation Society (KTCS). EcoDiver volunteers assist our small team in conducting reef health monitoring surveys at over 200 sites around Malaysia.
We recently had a Recycling Collection Centre built in Air Batang village, Tioman Island with the help of a team from the Royal Bank of Canada (RBC). This was done during RBC’s visit to the island, which marks its 5th year of working with RCM on Tioman Island. In previous years, the RBC team has conducted activities such as installing grease traps, building recycling bins, fixing buoys, clean-ups of mangrove areas, removal of COTs as well as removal of drift nets. This year, the construction of the Recycling Collection Centre was the highlight of their visit, and it will assist the villagers of Air Batang with their recycling activities. There is now a place to store the recyclables collected, separate and pack them before they are shipped out of the island. We’d like to thank RBC and their staff for this effort, and the villagers of Air Batang for supporting and helping out with this programme.
Our plastic recycling activities on Mantanani Island are making great progress, especially since we’ve had the Mantanani Plastic Recycling Centre (MPRC). The weekly plastic bottle collection from every house has been going on since January 2019. The team on Mantanani have also conducted recycling educational programmes at the MPRC. In September, 58 bales of plastic bottles, weighing 930kg were sent out to the mainland to a recycling centre. This amount was a result of collection from April to September. We also recently completed a Basic Computer Training with 13 locals and a Basic English Training with 14 locals. These community trainings began at the end of 2018, and only recently concluded with the participants being awarded certificates. More community trainings for the community are being planned.
Our colleague in Pulau Sibu has been assisting in environmental education programmes through the PEDAS (Pasukan Pendidik Ekologi & Alam Sekitar) group. This group is a collaboration between Reef Check Malaysia, Tengah Island Conservation, Trash Hero Mersing, MareCet, Majlis Daerah Mersing, Cawangan Taman Laut & Pengurusan Sumber, Department of Fisheries Johor & PPD Mersing. To date, they have conducted 2 modules on marine ecosystem and marine debris in 5 pilot schools in Mersing. More modules will be delivered next year.
We also recently organised the International Coastal Clean-up Day (ICC) 2019, and we’re now moving forward with finding better and innovative solutions to tackle the issue of waste. According to the data collected by 14,351 volunteers who picked up more than 40 tonnes of trash, the top 5 items collected were cigarette butts, plastic beverage bottles, food wrappers, plastic grocery bags, and plastic bottle caps.
Last but not least, a huge congratulations to one of our colleagues, Edmund for winning the ASEAN Youth Eco-Champions Award (Senior Youth category) this year! He has been active in the marine conservation field for a long time now, and this is a well-deserved award for someone who loves what he does, and does it very well!