Written reply by Ms Grace Fu, Minister for Sustainability and the Environment, to Parliamentary Question on Cleaning of Debris Washed Ashore Due to Monsoon Season, on 4 September 2020
Mr Dennis Tan Lip Fong: To ask the Minister for Sustainability and the Environment with regard to the marine trash washing ashore Singapore during the monsoon season (a) which beaches are usually impacted by the monsoon season (b) how has the schedule of the cleaning of recreational beaches been impacted during the COVID-19 period; (c) what is the schedule of cleaning of non-recreational beaches; and (d) how is the Ministry working with other countries to mitigate the issues of marine trash.
Written Reply by Minister Grace Fu:
1 Singapore faces the Northeast monsoon from November to March and the Southwest monsoon from June to September. The monsoon brings along flotsam to our shores. During the Northeast monsoon, the recreational beaches of Changi Beach, Pasir Ris, Punggol, Coney Island and Sembawang are affected by flotsam, while East Coast Park is affected during the Southwest monsoon. In 2019, NEA collected over 1,000 tonnes of flotsam from East Coast Beach, of which about half were collected during the Southwest monsoon months. During those months, there was an increase of almost 90% in the amount of flotsam collected from the beach.
2 To keep our recreational beaches clean, NEA increases the frequency of cleaning at these beaches from four times a week to twice a day during the monsoon periods. Non-recreational beaches not accessible to the public are cleaned once a week or fortnightly, depending on the amount of flotsam washed to our shores. This frequency of cleaning has been maintained even during the COVID-19 period. Nevertheless, despite this high frequency cleaning regime, after each cleaning session, new waves of flotsam from the open sea are washed onto our shores during each high tide. We are gratified to see that Singaporeans have taken the initiative to help clean our beaches. Many ground-up groups are actively involved in cleaning regularly. One of them, “East Coast Beach Plan” with more than 2,500 members, has been facilitating clean-up since July and has collected about 9,600kg of litter in August alone.
3 Singapore is an active contributor to international and regional platforms that address the issue of marine litter, which is transboundary in nature. We have worked with the international community to craft and adopt resolutions on Marine Plastic Litter and Addressing Single-Use Plastic Products Pollution at the 4th UN Environment Assembly, and worked with G20 countries to establish the 2019 G20 Implementation Framework for Actions on Marine Plastic Litter. We are also a member of the Ad-Hoc Open-Ended Expert Group (AHEG) on Marine Litter and Microplastics under the United Nations Environment Programme.
4 At the regional level, Singapore, along with other ASEAN member states, adopted the Bangkok Declaration on Combating Marine Debris and the ASEAN Framework of Action on Marine Debris in June 2019. We are also active in marine litter initiatives organised by the Coordinating Body on the Seas of East Asia (COBSEA) and Partnerships in Environmental Management of the Seas of East Asia (PEMSEA).
5 Last but not least, Singapore conducts capacity building programmes under the Singapore Cooperation Programme to support other developing countries in combating marine litter, and undertakes bilateral cooperation with countries to address the problem.
6 Even as we continue to tackle marine litter, all of us should do our part to keep our beaches clean. Littering not only spoils the beauty of our beaches, but also harms wildlife. I urge visitors to do their part and bin their rubbish when at the beaches, and advise others to practise similar good habits.