FOR more than 30 young scouts from various local secondary schools, a close-up look at what the Marine Department is doing along the coast of Sarawak was an eye-opening experience.
The department recently invited 120 scout leaders and 31 scouts from six secondary schools for its Aids to Navigation (AtoN) Monitoring Programme – also known as the Aid Navigational Monitoring Tool – covering the border of Tanjung Datu to Tanjung Po – on board the vessel KBA Mutiara Laut.
They were joined by Sarawak region director Mohd Marzuki Brahim, who fully supports the programme as it could impart to the younger generation the important role seafarers play in ensuring efficient and safe shipping.
The programme aimed to expose the scouts to the importance of AtoN and the methods of identifying the positions of these navigation aids, besides giving them the opportunity to sail.
Programme coordinator Dr Julyus M Mobilik said there are several types of AtoN along the Sarawak coast, which are maintained by the Marine Department, including lighthouses, flare direction guides, and buoys that guide boats cruising near port areas.
The scouts were also introduced to a seafarer’s job and other related aspects that might be relevant to their future undertakings. They also learned the basics of rescue.
The programme, held in conjunction with the inaugural Messengers of Peace Environmental Programme in Malaysia, brought the scouts on an adventure tour to Tanjung Datu Lighthouse, gazetted as the Tip of Borneo, and the first lighthouse with a registered postal code.
Messengers of Peace Malaysia coordinator Dr Amir Hamzah Aman was also on board.
The scouts did some cleaning around the lighthouse area and learned to identify the functions of the various operation tools.
After that, they were brought to Satang Island to learn about the turtle conservation programme, turtle species, and the threats these sea-dwelling Testudines are facing.
They were also shown how to take care of turtles and set up hatcheries and breeding habitats, as well as did some cleaning at the centre and the surrounding beach areas.
Education Department Sarawak officer (human development management sector) Salina Bujang, who accompanied the group, was happy that the scouts had been exposed to the importance of conservation.
She commended the Marine Department for taking measures to ensure the safety of the scouts and their teachers, assuring all activities organised by the Marine Department would be fully supported by the Co-Curriculum Division of the Education Department if safety guidelines are observed.
The schools taking part in the programme were SMK Tun Abdul Rahman, SMK Datuk Patinggi Haji Abdul Gapor, SMK Tun Abang Haji Openg, SMK Batu Kawa, SMK Siburan, SMK Petra Jaya, SMK Sebuyau, and SMK Agama Tun Ahmad Zaidi.
More activities planned
The Marine Department is planning a number of activities for the public and secondary school students including a Water Safety Campaign and Oil Spill Equipment Practice.
The former includes raising boating safety awareness and briefings on life jackets. Participants will be shown how to use life jackets, techniques on flotation and water abatement, group hypothermic avoidance, and centipede flotation (group flotation).
For the Oil Spill Equipment training programme, participants will learn about marine life and habitats, handling oil spills, and the agencies involved.
Moreover, participants will be exposed to the impact of oil spills on the community and countries, the laws on offences resulting directly or indirectly from oil spills, clean-up operations, and a static exhibition on oil spill equipment.
A third activity is the KJLS Remote Shipping programme for students only.
It aims to give the students a hands-on navigation experience on a one-on-one basis under the crew of the Marine Department. The students will be exposed to the role of each crew member on board during a five-day cruise from Kuching to Miri, then Kota Kinabalu, and finally Labuan.
During the journey, the students will learn how to monitor navigation tools and functions of sailing aids equipment. They will also take part in community service responsibility activities at each port of call.
The programme will give the students and the public an insight into a seafarer’s career.