MNS Miri to celebrate International Coastal and World Clean-up Day

Giant clams of Tridacna sp. are among the sea creatures seen at Siwa Reef. — Photo by Iqbal

MIRI: Malaysian Nature Society, Miri branch (MNS Miri) will celebrate its first International Coastal and World Clean-up Day on Sept 15.

In order to have better understanding on the current issues that are happening on the land and underwater at Miri, MNS Miri chairman Iqbal Abdollah took the opportunity to dive at three of the popular diving sites – Hatano Reef, Siwa Reef and Sunday Reef about a week ago.

“The initial intention of my diving mission was after I saw photos by divers who witnessed sea turtle and dolphin at these areas. I wanted to look with my own eyes these amazing sea creatures, thus my diving mission that was quite impromptu.”

However, he added, apart from these, he also took the opportunity to assess several issues at Miri diving sites such as the impact of humans on the diving sites and the population of fishes and its ecosystem.

Iqbal was joined by two open water scuba instructors (OWSI), one diver medical technician (DMT), Advanced Open Water student (AOW) and two recreational divers, in the diving expedition.

According to Iqbal, who also shared his adventure on his Facebook page, Volunteerism with Iqbal, Hatano Reef and Siwa Reef are still well populated with a variety of hard and soft corals, sponges and fishes of wide range from predatory species and small fishes.

Known as the largest reef in Miri, Siwa Reef is said to be about 800m in length and depth ranges between 8m to 18 metres, whilst Hatano Reef was newly discovered just few years ago.

“Hatano and Siwa Reefs appear to be affected by recreational fishing as we found fishing hooks, jigs and old fishing nets that have been covered with algae.

“As for Sunday Reef, the condition was worse with a lot of rubble, rocks and corals afflicted with disease. It could be due to natural reasons.

“Seeing these, it shows that we should be worried about recreational diving and fishing activity that’s happening at these diving destinations,” he said.

Iqbal also stressed that both dive operators and divers should be more sensitive and protective towards the coral reefs and avoid touching or any action that could possibly damage the reef.

“I was told that there are sites that have ghost net where fishing net got stuck. When the net was unable to be retrieved, the net was just left there and it becomes ghost net. It is a great concern to us, as it poses hazard and risk to sea creatures like sea turtle that might get stuck to the net and die if unable to free itself,” he said.

The Miri International Coastal and World Clean-up campaign will kick-off with a beach cleaning event on Sept 15 from 7am to 10am at Miri Marina Beach.

“We are anticipating about 600 volunteers to take part in the cleaning campaign and to save the environment,” he said.

Miri International Coastal and World Clean-up Day is to commemorate the International Coastal Clean-up that began more than 30 years ago, whereby on Sept 15 every year, communities around the world rallied together with the common goal of clearing up trash that litter their coastline.