Conservation and Environment in Cambodia: Monthly Updates
Conservation in Cambodia - Monthly update - March - April 2016
Marine Pollution Presentations
The Marine Pollution presentation exists in the form of a projected Powerpoint display which details topics including; Marine Pollution Overview, The Origins of Plastic in the Ocean, Microplastic and its potential problems for humans, Ghost Nets and their removal, “Refusing, Reducing, Reusing and Recycling,” Trash Management and Community Clean Up Projects. During the presentation volunteers are encouraged to ask questions about the issues raised and talk about possible solutions.
Much discussion centres on the issues most prevalent at Koh Sdach, but touches on the serious global problems as well. After the presentation a short period of discussion is opened up to share ideas. During the March/April period the presentation was given to 9 new volunteers.
Dives Against Debris
For this reporting period we conducted 25 dives that included debris removal. This effort elicited the second highest amount for any given reporting period, at 324.3 Kg. Once again the overwhelming majority of material gathered was fishing net, rope and monofilament fishing line, with two tyres (1 large, 1 small) also brought up. Our efforts were equal to the equivalent of someone removing this debris from the reef over a period of 9085 minutes, or nearly 152 hours.
The largest amount of trash was removed from Koh Ampel, at 110.5 Kgs, with Turtle Island the second in line at 80.7 Kgs. During the next reporting period we will reach a new milestone with the total amount of debris removed surpassing 2 tonnes.
Coastal Clean Ups
The Coastal Clean Up results for March and April were outstanding. The greatest amount of trash and recyclables were returned for any given period and we expanded our efforts to a new worthwhile site, whilst revisiting other areas where we have made a useful contribution. In total 461 Kg of rubbish was picked up from local beaches and fringing grass areas. We also collected an amazing 194 Kg of recyclable material which was gifted to local recyclers to cash in.
These efforts brought our tally (kept since June 2015) to over 1100 Kg of trash taken from local beaches, in less than a year, and 1500 Kg when recycled plastics are taken into account. Our efforts for the two months amounted to 120 hours of combined time. The percentage of discarded trash that could have been recycled was 30 %, which is slightly above average and likely accounted for by two clean ups which focused solely on recyclables (to maximise the effectiveness of our efforts when limited time was available).
The majority of the trash by weight came from Koh Sdach Island itself, with one clean up at East beach returning 170 Kg on it's own and another of 100 Kg. The most clean ups were done at Poi Chhong Lek on the Mainland, to the North of where Koh Sdach is situated. This is where a very large proportion of our recyclable trash came from. Being a long stretch of beach, some 20 minutes by boat from the island, it collects a lot of the trash that floats the furthest, including a lot of plastic bottles.
Other Pollution Related Activities
One of the activities that we engaged in was the creation of some art from reused plastic bottles with our youth group – The Green Protectors. We showed them how to make plastic flowers from the tops of the bottles and little containers out of the base. One smart attendee even created bracelets from the middle section. This type of activity is designed to allow the participants to see plastic not only in it's negative light, or as an inconvenience that can be tossed away. The idea of reusing plastic isn't as high up the ladder of sustainable approaches to the subject as not purchasing it in the first place, but it is better than recycling it into another bottle and far better than littering with it.
To help keep the support of, and set a good example to, the local youth we conducted a program of restoration and clean up at the local football/soccer field. We came along to the area during two afternoons before the daily impromptu games began and did clean ups of trash in the area. We also repaired the netting of their goals, restrung the string marked sidelines and removed many kilos of rock and broken glass that made the field a little hazardous to play on. On both days local children joined us in these efforts and helped. We spread the message that in turn for helping them with their field they could help us by placing their rubbish in bins which would be provided at the field. The bins have been built and will be installed in the week following the writing of this report. It is hoped this exchange will prove a fruitful one that keeps the area clean and most importantly changes their mind about littering.
During March and April we conducted the largest number of surveys for any given two month period. We managed to run 27 seahorse survey dives, in which we made observations of 12 seahorses. When multiplying the dives by the number of divers present, this created 171 individual “runs” of survey, or 140 hours of searching. The area surveyed during these dives equates roughly to a strip of substrate 2 metres wide and about 220 metres in length per run, or a strip 2 m wide and 37 km long in total, when all surveyor's efforts are accounted for, over the two months.
Surveys were conducted at our 6 Primary Sites – Koh Toteong South, Koh Chan East, Poi Japon South, Koh Sdach West, Koh Sdach South and Koh Kmauch South. Some of these sites were visited multiple times and a single survey was also conducted on the Mainland at Poi Chhong Lek, in the North of the Archipelago.
During the reporting period no Seahorse Landings Surveys were conducted. No seahorses were spotted for sale in the market and no reports of seahorses were given to us by locals.
Casual Seahorse Sightings
One seahorse was spotted during a course dive at the reef south of Koh Sdach. A female H. kuda was found about 7 to 8 metres from the edge of the reef, lying on it's side near some algae.
Conservation Manager, Cambodia