Sunday 28th October saw a concerted effort by many Sabahans and Sabahan residents to raise awareness of environmental issues in the Kudat region in the form of a beach clean up.
Kudat is situated north east of the state capital Kota Kinabalu near the tip of Borneo. It is a region of outstanding natural beauty and is considered likely in the future to become more of a destination for tourism including dive tourism.
There are believed to be large turtle populations in the area which need protection from illegal catching and egg theft. There are also a considerable number of historical wrecks in the vicinity which may lie slightly too deep for all but tech divers but promise wonderful sights and a fascinating history. Not all of the area has been very well explored and there could be more undiscovered dive sites peppering the area which, being at the tip of Borneo, finds itself on the edge of the Coral Triangle.
Some 150 volunteers gathered in Kudat at the site of a beach clean up organised by the WWF. The rubbish was collected and divided into recyclable and non-recyclable materials with the latter weighing in at over 4,500 kgs. However the scale of the job was such that it was estimated that this accounted for around 10% of the material on the beach.
Therefore the day ended with many feeling that the occasion’s real achievement was to highlight the scale of the problem. This one beach would require several days (if not weeks) of clean up if it is to be done by human hands. Alternatively, in order to restore this beach from what looks just like a rubbish tip it seems some heavy machinery is the only feasible solution.
Many other beaches in the area are in fact very clean. This particular beach’s problems may arise from a combination of ocean currents, waste from a nearby water village and possibly the beach being used simply as a dumping site. The scale of the problem and its proximity to a children’s school mean it is in dire need of assistance.
However it is hoped that with more local awareness and governmental responsiveness this beach can be restored and more generally that the marine environment of Kudat can be improved and protected for the future.
For more on the region’s marine environment:
Sabah dive sites