SINGAPORE: Singapore on Sunday (Jun 5) launched a national action strategy aimed at galvanising a "whole-of-nation" effort to combat the growing global challenge of marine litter.
"Marine litter is a growing global challenge that requires collective and comprehensive action. It can come from many sources and is a transboundary issue as litter is moved across the oceans by prevailing winds and tides," said the Ministry of Sustainability and the Environment (MSE).
The National Action Strategy on Marine Litter (NASML) outlines six strategic focus areas tailored to Singapore's local context and demonstrates Singapore's commitment to addressing marine litter domestically and internationally, added MSE.
These focus areas include the reduction of land-based and sea-based sources of litter, circular economy approach as well as research and development.
The NASML will also look at maintaining and strengthening outreach and stakeholder engagement, alongside international engagement and collaboration.
The action strategy was announced by Minister of State for Sustainability and the Environment, Mr Desmond Tan during a beach clean-up at Tanah Merah Beach on Sunday.
The clean-up was organised by social enterprises Stridy and Seastainable, in conjunction with the World Environment Day.
According to data by the National Environment Agency (NEA), about 4,009 tons of flotsam was collected from 10 beaches and coastal areas in Singapore in 2021.
This is up from the 3,490 tons collected in 2020 and 3,640 tons in 2019.
Flotsam is defined as any floating object of reasonable size, including but not limited to tree trunks, plastic bottles, leaves, carcasses, drums, floating pontoons and dead fish, said MSE.
Most of the flotsam in Singapore’s waters is carried over by currents, tides and winds.
The NASML is a first step to formalising "our actions as a nation to address marine litter", said MSE.
MSE added that it developed the NASML in close consultation with key stakeholders such as academics, representatives from Institutes of Higher Learning, ground-up organisations, members of the public, and relevant government agencies.
Discussions covered the strengths and gaps in Singapore's current approach to tackling marine litter, as well as how individuals, organisations and the public sector can collaborate and contribute to improving the situation.
As plastics comprise a major component of marine litter, MSE added that efforts to tackle marine litter will also "contribute towards global efforts to address plastic pollution".