Feb 3, 2008

Spring Cleaning at Chek Jawa

While most other Singaporeans were doing spring cleaning at their homes, a bunch of Naked Hermit Crabs and Chek Jawa guides headed down to spring clean our favourite shore.Soon after we arrived, it started to get wet. At first it was a mizzle (miserable drizzle) and soon turned into a downpour, as Robert so correctly predicted.
As we waited it out at the jetty overlooking Pulau Sekudu, we spotted THREE fishing boats! The waters between Pulau Sekudu and Chek Jawa are restricted and no one is supposed to be there or land on Pulau Sekudu without a permit.The three boats were busy fishing in the channel between Chek Jawa and Pulau Sekudu.
We also spotted several canoeists on Pulau Sekudu.

The ever ready Chek Jawa security officers sprung into action. Dashing out into the rain with binoculars to get numbers and details down even though they got soaking wet in the process. The details were radioed to the Coast Guard. Bravo to them!
After a while, the Coast Guard did appear!A few of us were still out at the jetty to keep track of the situation. The Coast Guard dealt personally with the canoeists, who turned out to be older guys with buckets of stuff that they had collected from Pulau Sekudu. The fishermen, apparently, will be getting a letter based on the registration numbers on their boats.

The downpour petered out to a mizzle again, so we headed out onto the shore, to deal with the big mess of nets that we last saw in January.As the volunteers struggled with the enormous mess, Andy was documenting a fisherman laying down yet more driftnets!!
There were 10 of us this time, a much better number. But it was still a struggle.Much of the nets are buried so it's hard work to dig them up, then wash off the animals and mud before removing the nets. Here's the manly K C Au Yeong and Robert at the task.
It's important (we find out), to look away when we tug at the nets. When the nets snap, a fine spray of mud, sand and assorted gritty bits end up in your eyes, mouth and other unpleasant places.Here are the two newest members of the cleanup team bravely working at it: Wen Pin and Li Min.
We worked for an hour and only removed a small fraction of the mess.After we dragged it all back to the pick up point, everyone had a good wash. The guys had an especially thorough wash!Thanks to all who came today: our newest team members Li Min, K C Au Yeong, Wen Pin, and the old diehards Robert H, Ley Kun, Marcus (this time no crabs in the crevices), Liana, Chay Hoon and of course our intrepid leader Andy.

It's a slow and painstaking effort to remove abandoned driftnets. And a seemingly never ending task.

How we wish people who love the sea would be more responsible and not abuse our marine heritage.

Other blog entries about this trip

仄爪哇的“大掃除“(The "Spring Cleaning" @ Chek Jawa)
on the colourful clouds blog


Redsagaseed said...

There are so many drift nets stuck on the shores in Chek Jawa, trapping lots of fishes, crabs as well as unsightly man-made stuff like window frames, planks, tyres, steel wires. We were on the shore facing Sekudu. There are several possible ways to improve the situation. ...1) Can NParks or other authorities hire contractors to clean up the CJ shores? Isn't Chek Jawa supposed to be one of the jewels in our nature spots? ...2) There must be better enforcement in stopping these fishermen from using drift nets in CJ. While the 10 of us were there on the shore cutting and hauling in all these drift nets, we witness this fisherman on his little motor boat casting more drift nets into the water right in front of us. What audacity! I just wish there is better enforcement. Much more can be done to improve the quality of the shores and mangroves at CJ. - leykun -

reddotbeachbum said...

A lot of the stuff was probably left behind from Kampung days. When the kampung were cleared, no one paid sufficient attention to the shore.

reddotbeachbum said...

of course,...it is evident that some of the abandoned nets are a recent addition which means that local fisherman are probably responsible for the dumping.

Redsagaseed said...

How to persuade those fishermen from using drift nets? If only they understand the damage to sea animals that they cause.... Public awareness? Education?