LKCNHM Thursday Talk Shop 3: Plastic Pollution and Marine Biodiversity with Muhammad Reza Cordova from LIPI

This event discusses the impacts of plastics on our marine biodiversity, and what we as citizens can do to help mitigate the problem.

According to studies, 7,000-250k metric tons in the ocean, 4.8-12.7 metric tonnes enters the ocean per year. Biodiversity lost, we need to understand its impacts and evaluate the solutions to mitigate. Top 10 trash collected include cigarette butts, plastic beverage bottles, straws, etc. The total straws collected were sufficient to extend to a distance of 2.3km. This piece of news was very shocking to me considering how short straws actually were. Effects of marine pollution of marine biodiversity are physical impairment after swallowing, entanglement etc. Clear environmental risks and consequences of ingestion of plastic  by 700 marine species has been proved.

Mr Reza discussed the degradation of plastic debris. Primary sources of microplastic from agriculture, textile industries etc. will go through heat, waves, UV light and bacteria to form secondary sources of microplastic. Microplastics have a high risk of entering the food web. However, potential environmental risks are known but real consequences are mostly unknown due to the lack of research. One thing is for sure that people will eventually consume these animals and we get affected. Additionally, microplastics can be associated with toxic metal and when consumed can bring about harmful health effects.

How can we take part in solving the issue?

First, we need to practice the 3Rs. Educators are needed to promote awareness. We can also  participate in Beach clean ups (e.g.HSBC marine protection programme at Pulau Hantu)

Since there is a surge in demand for delivery services because of covid, we should bring own lunch boxes or refuse disposable cutlery instead to reduce plastic consumption.

Muhammad Reza Cordova works at the research group of marine pollution and bioremediation in Research Center for Oceanography, Indonesian Institute of Sciences (LIPI) Jakarta – Indonesia. He currently researches on marine pollution, particularly in distribution, occurrence, and toxicology of marine debris and microplastic, in Indonesian Seas. He works with LIPI which is the Indonesian Institute of Sciences. It is the governmental authority for science and research in Indonesia. He went on to marine pollution, marine plastic debris and microplastic as his field of interest after watching finding Nemo and Wall.E

I was attracted to this event as I first encountered macro and micro plastics in my secondary school when we had to conduct a project analysing the kinds of plastics in our beaches to possibly trace out the sources of these plastics. Through this event, I wanted to further my understanding of the situation of plastic waste in Singapore, and what we can do as citizens to mitigate the issue.

After this event, I learnt that we need to practice the 3Rs and if given the opportunity I would participate in beach clean ups (e.g.HSBC marine protection programme at Pulau Hantu)

We should bring our own lunch boxes or refuse disposable cutlery instead to reduce plastic consumption. 

The issue of marine debris does not only affect marine biodiversity but would also indirectly affect us when we consume seafood for example. Additionally, a reduction in the population of some livestock will also negatively impact the livelihood of local farmers as they depend on fishing as a primary source for living.

Lastly, I would like to go scuba diving and go to the seas to see marine biodiversity and coral reefs because I think it is incredibly important to support local tourism so that these areas will not be neglected due to their unprofitability but instead will be conserved by the government so that future generations will be able to witness our amazing biodiversity.

~Chong Xiu Yi

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