Jan 6, 2008

Chek Jawa Cleanup

A small but enthusiatic team of volunteers were at Chek Jawa this afternoon after we heard that nets had accumulated on the shores there.

We had a quick look at the shore from the jetty at House No. 1 to see if we could spot the nets.
The tide was too high to see the shore. But there were thousands of little fishes milling about under the jetty.These poor little fishes are the ones at risk of being entangled in abandoned drift nets that accumulate under jetties and among mangrove tree roots.

While cleanups have been held in Chek Jawa in the past, these were focused on mangroves near the boardwalk. However, the massive net accumulation had been building up in the mangroves to the other side of House No. 1. In these mangroves...
We headed down to the shores and all too soon, found nets wound around the roots of the mangrove trees. These nets can be lethal to crabs, prawns, small fishes and other animals that naturally shelter among such roots at high tide.
The volunteers cheerfully got down to dealing with these.

Meanwhile, just across at Pulau Sekudu, canoeists and sailing boats were landing. Some of the others in the team took photos and here's some photos on the reddot blog.
Shortly after, a jetski zoomed up and down the channel, while a boat full of fishermen were busy off the shore.

It started to rain so I stopped taking photos. But Jun's waterproof camera continued to document the effort in stills and video. While Robin and I checked out the shores near the jetty (the tide was too high for us to find any), the rest checked out the shores further away.

Alas, here were the massive nets that we heard about.We began the all too familiar routine of chopping, digging, dragging heavy nets out.

The guys made many trips carrying piles of nets bigger than themselves.It was hard going as the ground was soft.While the manly ones went about hauling, I quickly went to document what we just didn't have the hands or tide to bring out today. It was a heartbreaking sight.

This massive mess of nets overlook Pulau Sekudu, with Chay Hoon in the distance, struggling with the bunch of nets near the waterline.
The net seemed to have entangled and killed this large eel-tail catfish.It was stone dead, and recently dead as it wasn't scavanged upon yet. It must have struggled a bit, judging from the hole around it.

So long as the abandoned nets remain there, they will continue to kill. See "Ghost Traps are Killing Machines" a link on the reddot blog

Alas, we just didn't have enough hands today to take out more than a tiny proportion of the nets. Andy thinks we took out less than 10%.

A little further along the coastline, another accumulation of nets on the mid-shore. The tide was rather high so we didn't get to see the lower shores. We shudder to think what might be there.There large piles of nets on the high shores as well, all along the coast.
We're not even talking about the other kinds of debris there. The most notable of which were two and a half abandoned boats!

This small half-a-boat, or perhaps one half buried boat/canoe?
Another deeper among the undergrowth, in the process of decaying.
And a huge one jammed up on the shore, complete with propeller.
We focused on nets for today. But there are many other kinds of debris on the shore. These are not good for marine life either.

After extracting and dragging the nets to the shore, the team still had to bring the nets all the way up to where they could be disposed of properly.The small bits were put into big bags so they wouldn't fall off during the transfer.And everything dragged all the way to House No. 1.Robert shows the comforter that was found wrapped around a mangrove tree!And finally, we got the huge pile near an access point for disposal.Most of the team were too tired to make a happy picture. Robert ended up with crunchy bits in his teeth, and Marcus had crabs, clams and cramps up his pants.

Thanks to the valiant team (from left to right): Robert H, Marcus, Andy, Chay Hoon, Robin, Jun.

We need to go back and get the other 90% that we saw (and possibly there's even more that we didn't see on this trip). If you'd like to join in this effort, do drop Ria an email at hello@wildsingapore.com. Please put "Shore cleanup" in the subject line.

There's a lot to do and more hands are always welcomed!

More about the trip
Chek Jawa's Great Fishnet Graveyard more about the poachers, canoeists, fishermen and some grave words for them on the reddot blog

Other links
Before the trip began, there was a little adventure with a lizard swallowing snake that Marcus was protecting. More about the legless and the luckless on his budak blog.

No comments: