After illegal waste dump, nation committed to protecting seas

by DASHVEENJIT KAUR / pic by BERNAMA

The Parliamentarians for Global Action (PGA) Malaysia is stepping up measures to protect seas and oceans following the recent rise in illegal waste imports.

Its chairman M Kulasegaran said it is timely for the Malaysian Parliament to join hands with the relevant parties to ensure that the country’s coasts and seas are well protected.

“We have seen over the past few weeks that the Malaysian soil has been a favourable dumping ground for waste, particularly plastic waste from other countries.

“The question is, when land is replenished, where would the waste be dumped? They will inevitably end up in our oceans, which will greatly threaten the biodiversity and ecosystem of its marine life,” he said in a speech during the PGA Malaysia briefing on the protection of ocean at the Parliament building yesterday.

The text of his speech was read out by PGA Malaysia secretary Kasthuri Pato.

Kulasegaran emphasised that it is necessary for the country to ensure a successful implementation of one of the 17 sustainable development goals — namely life below water.

Malaysia is a maritime country with the 29th-longest coastline in the world, while the Straits of Melaka is one of the world’s busiest sea routes.

“With busy ports, transboundary smuggling, human trafficking, violation of human rights and safety issues are plaguing our coastlines and oceans.

“On a global scale, illegal, unregulated and unreported (IUU) fishing has resulted in losses of RM97.4 billion per year,” he said, adding that Malaysia too is taking the brunt of unscrupulous fishing activities.

Kulasegaran also said efforts to combat IUU fishing cannot be done without collaboration between governments and agencies that operate under them, especially among the Asean-member countries.

“My hope is that MPs and senators will use this platform not only to gain knowledge on this important topic, but to have dialogue with PGA and other agencies on our roles to protect the oceans,” he added.

Dewan Rakyat Speaker Datuk Mohamad Ariff Md Yusof, who was also present at the briefing, said given the rise of such cases where Malaysia has been at the receiving end for illegal waste imports, preemptive measures are needed before the perpetrators opt for oceans as dumping site.

“We are here to identify the issues that we are facing not just in Malaysia or the Asean region alone, but also in the world.

“The role of the Malaysian Parliament is to work together with conservationists, legislators, activists and men on the street to step up and brainstorm as protectors of the ocean,” Mohamad Ariff said.