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Towards effective monitoring of plastic pollution

Application of the Clean Coast Index (CCI) for coastal cleanliness monitoring and assessment
14 December 2017
Shah Alam, Selangor

The United Nations Oceans Conference in June and other recent efforts at the global level have recognized marine litter as a serious form of marine pollution that needs to be addressed. Accordingly, the recent United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA), the world’s highest level decision making body on the environment, met in Nairobi, Kenya in early December 2017 to discuss the issue.

Plastic debris are transported by ocean currents across regions and water bodies. Whether caused by poor waste and wastewater management, accidental losses, or illegal dumping, their leakage into the oceans pose serious environmental, social, and economic consequences by adversely impacting marine life and ecosystems, sea transport, fisheries, tourism, recreation, and ultimately the human well-being. The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) Global Initiative on Marine Litter has provided an effective framework for conducting activities addressing marine litter. Among the main issues emphasised is the continuous growth in the amount of solid waste thrown away and the very slow rate of degradation of most items, together leading to a gradual increase in marine litter found at sea, on the sea floor, as well as on the coastal shores. Marine lives face repercussion from debris as there have been records of deaths from entanglement or ingestion of debris.

MIMA established the Clean Coast Index (CCI) as a tool to measure the cleanliness of coastal areas. The CCI provides a quantitative assessment on the amount, distribution, and composition of randomly generated litter at selected coastal areas. It aids in indicating the level of beach cleanliness and the cleaning activities undertaken by local authorities as well as identifies gaps in coastal area litter management. It focuses on plastics as they are not biodegradable and form the largest component of litter found in coastal areas. The term ‘plastic’ here includes any artificial waste made, or partly made, of plastic, including nylon fishing lines, Styrofoam remains, plastic bags in all sizes, polyurethane sheets, bottles and bottle cap, cigarette box and outer cover. Plastic items that are larger than 2 cm in size are included as the index numerator.

In conjunction with the Ocean Conservancy’s International Coastal Clean-up (ICC) celebration this year, the CCI methodology was applied to measure the cleanliness of beaches surveyed in the state of Selangor. The event saw the participation of the five local councils of Sabak Bernam, Kuala Langat, Kuala Selangor, Sepang, and Klang at the coastal beaches of Bagan Nakhoda Omar, Bagan Lalang, Pantai Remis, Pantai Morib, and Tanjung Harapan respectively.

The results were presented by the Centre for Coastal and Marine Environment (CMER) of MIMA at the recent Mesyuarat Jawatankuasa Tetap Alam Sekitar Negeri Selangor (Selangor State Environment Council Meeting). The meeting concurred with the importance of having an effective monitoring tool to assess management measures on marine litter. The effort will be continued at the state level.

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During the meeting

MIMA appreciates being able to contribute on the issue of addressing coastal and marine litter pollution and will continue to actively participate in this area.

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