Tioman Coastal Clean-Up: Stop Being a Beach!

source: Berjaya Resort

When it comes to island adventures, free diving and travels, everyone wants to be the first to tell the world how wonderful their trip is and how escapism should be a part of all our lives #wanderlust

It’s true, but saying you love beaches and oceans aren’t enough, we need to play our part in making sure that our beaches are sandy white and our seas teal blue. JUICE had the chance to join the cleanup party hosted by Berjaya Resort at Tioman Islands, along with divers and 200 participants from Malaysia and Singapore for the International Coastal Clean-Up Day.

source: J&A

The 3-day event was in support of the third International Year of the Reef, a global effort to increase awareness and educate the public about the values and threats to coral reefs, as well as to support related conservation, research and management efforts.

Participants were guided by conservation-NGO Reef Check Malaysia (RCM) and local dive operators. We started the coastal and underwater clean-ups at multiple sites in Tioman, including Pantai Teluk Genting, Teluk Bakau, Fan Canyon, Batu Malang, Labas, Tioman Marine Park, Teluk Kador and Kampung Tekek.

source: J&A
source: J&A

A 20 mins boat ride to nearby islands were soon filled with 10 people and double that number in trash bags. Most of the waste found on the island were not necessarily a direct cause of littering–but it does started from there. The usual plastic bottles, glass bottles were found as well as other oddities that were not from our shores.

Most of the trash washed ashore didn’t just come from people who dumped in the ocean, but also from land. Remember that slipper you forgot at that waterfall trip? Yeah, the waves pulled it to nearby islands. Tioman local Norhasnieza Razali said that “these rubbish would drift in the ocean for weeks, months if not years before ending up on land again. While drifting in the ocean, they pose a threat to marine life.”

Every piece of trash that we found were then transported to Rumah Hijau, a local recycling centre that aims to educate and spread awareness on the importance of recycling. They sort recyclable materials and make them into usable items like tables, chairs and even cement mixture.

In the span of two days, more than than 1,000 plastic bottles were collected, including beverage cans, plastic forks and spoons, plastic caps – all in staggering numbers.

Kajang-born marine scientist and RCM project manager Alvin Chelliah hopes to increase awareness among Malaysians and involvement from local communities.

“We’re all responsible for the trash that ends up in our oceans. Our long-term goal is to prevent trash from entering our waterways, and ultimately, stop doing beach clean-ups,” said Alvin, who has been based in Tioman since 2014.

RCM Project Manager Alvin Cheah. source J&A

RCM aims to collect as much data possible on the amount of trash on our coastlines. This data will help to study the impact on marine ecosystem and the findings can be shared to relevant stakeholders so the ecosystem can thrive for future generations.

Other than being a big name in the surfing world, Rip Curl Malaysia is doing their part in helping conservation programmes by contributing RM15 for every limited edition Sea Warden t-shirt purchased.

Sea Wardens. source: J&A

Senior Marketing Exec Moe Faisal said Rip Curl has always been a strong advocate of conservation projects.

“As a brand that revolves around mother nature, we feel strongly about keeping Malaysia’s marine life, forest and land beautiful and healthy for us and future generations,” said Moe.

Apart from Tioman, the International Year of the Reef was celebrated throughout marine parks, islands and public beaches across Malaysia.

To learn more about RCM and its programmes, head to their website. Help save our ocean in style by getting your own Sea Warden tee here or at Rip Curl stores nationwide.

Thanks to Berjaya Resort and GoPro Malaysia for keeping us cozy during the trip.