‘Everyday changes have impact on the environment’

Mohammed “Zam” Alzam

Mohammed “Zam” Alzam

Tengah Island Conservation

Zam is an Outreach Coordinator at Tengah Island Conservation, a non-profit that researches and protects marine biodiversity funded by Batu Batu resort.

"I got my degree in Marine Science from University Malaysia Sabah. My passion for the sea came up during my foundation year at the university, when I was exposed to other career options aside from being a doctor! In my family, it was either you become a doctor, lawyer or engineer. But one of the lecturers opened my eyes to the opportunity to explore the marine world. 

“One of the main problems around the Johor Marine Park is pollution due to plastics and ‘ghost nets’ (abandoned fishing nets). In 2019, just from the six islands where we do regular beach and underwater clean ups – Tengah, Besar, Hujong, Mensirip, Harimau and Gua – we’ve collected more than 11 tonnes of ghost nets, plastics and other debris. On Harimau alone, we collected two tonnes of ghost nets and abandoned fishing gear such as fish cages.

Can you imagine what happens if ghost gear isn’t picked up? I’ve personally seen scars on dead fish that are trapped inside abandoned cages. These cages are often made from chicken coop wire, so it can be sharp as well. And when fish are trapped in there for an extended period of time, they get stressed and start to scratch themselves against the cages.

On the bright side, what has been encouraging to see is the impact from PEDAS – our multi-stakeholder environmental education programme in Mersing’s schools.

Every two months, PEDAS partners take turns to go into schools to teach students five modules on marine ecosystems, coral reefs, sea turtles, marine mammals and marine debris. The kids have no idea how beautiful Johor Marine Park actually is!

In 2019, PEDAS reached around 500 students across three primary schools and two secondary schools. And we’ve started to see a change in attitudes. For example, at SMK Sri Mersing, they’re limiting the usage of plastics in the school. Students have started bringing their own water bottles and even food containers to buy food from the canteen. And this change isn’t being enforced by us, but by the school. It’s great to see the school realise these everyday changes have an impact on the environment.”


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