Selamat pagi, we’re setting up in Indonesia
The SeaCleaners vows to fight plastic pollution in the most exposed areas and aims to promote the transition towards circular economy around the world.
In 2021, The SeaCleaners has taken a major and awaited step in its development: we are now active in Indonesia!
On site, our representative, the oceanographer Priska Widyastuti, is working with local actors in order to carry out common actions, while the Mobula 8 is getting ready to embark for the country of a thousand islands.
Discover the interview of Priska Widyastuti, her background and her missions within The SeaCleaners: the portrait of an ocean heroe, committed to the fight against plastic pollution.
Who are you, Priska ?
I’m an Indonesian, I was born in a small island in Sumatera called Tanjung Pinang. Since finishing my study seven years ago, I have been working in marine environment, with my expertise in physical oceanography. My journey leads me to work on various environmental projects, searching and trying the best approach we could do to protect and use marine resources in a sustainable way. I am now a representative for The SeaCleaners in Indonesia.
What is your background , what made you choose this field of work & study?
My educational background is marine science, both for bachelor’s and master’s degrees. Since I was a kid, I always (and still) love science.
Learning how the planet works and how one thing could happen because of a natural reaction always amaze me.
It was my mother who suggested to me to study marine environment initially. Not many people in Indonesia are working in this field (marine environment), at least at that time (more than 10 years ago). She thought that we ought to make a change because our country is surrounded by ocean. We need to do something about it while channelling my passion for science.
During my study, I learned a lot about the ocean. I was mesmerized by the underwater beauty and all the complex processes.
So when I graduated, I continue on this path and work especially in Indonesian ocean, where marine biodiversity is very high and major ocean circulation takes place. I then worked for an environmental consulting company in their Marine and Coastal Development unit, as well continued my master’s degree in marine science. I had an opportunity to be involved in many different projects, from sustainable fisheries to ocean conservation.
What is your mission at The SeaCleaners?
My mission at The SeaCleaners is to develop and carry out activities in order to help addressing waste issues (especially plastic pollution) in Indonesia. I am working on this mission with the support of the team in France for various activities: technical aspect through waste collection and management, awareness raising, education, communication, and scientific research.
What are the projects you are working on at the moment, with The SeaCleaners?
We are now developing some projects in Indonesia, both at sea using the Mobula 8 boat and on land through a waste management improvement project. Mobula 8 is The SeaCleaners’ clean-up boat that is planned to collect waste in Indonesian waters, in rivers or estuaries where the trash has not yet flowed to the ocean. We are now identifying the locations in Indonesia where Mobula 8 can perform best.
We believe that we surely need to address the problem at its source.
Therefore, the operational team would also like to create a waste management improvement project through an integrated approach, from awareness raising to collecting and repurposing plastic waste on land. We are also trying to develop scientific missions to help improving the approaches and supporting the supply of information for research and educational activities.
Why did you join The SeaCleaners, what do you want to accomplish from working with The SeaCleaners?
In the past, I closed my eyes about plastic pollution. Using plastic materials was a habit: drinking from plastic straws, using plastic bags… But then people around me pointed out to me how it is threatening the environment, and it opened my eyes. Through the support and information available, I am gradually transforming into becoming more aware of the impact of my habit and changing my behaviour. By joining The SeaCleaners, I am hoping that I can give more contributions by creating actions that would help restoring or improving the state of natural environment. Since the education I received about plastic pollution could change me, I now believe we can encourage more people through the actions we do.
How do the operations’ team work on the Indonesian field?
The operational team is currently building partnerships with the local government and organizations. We are gathering information about the problems and potential solutions, identifying the needs, and formulating the support and approach we can do to address those problems.
As we know already, education is important. Awareness raising and education campaigns are essential to get more and more people conscious about the issue. But without action, the knowledge we receive about the danger and how to avoid plastic pollution would not stop the problems to happen. We need to also apply what we learn. Therefore, through working with local associations, the team would combine education and action together. And along the way, we will work with Indonesian scientists to better understand the situation from scientific perspective and to share knowledge.
What do you want to achieve fighting the marine plastic pollution?
I would like people to understand the danger of plastic pollution, stop the business-as-usual and start moving towards a lifestyle embraced with ecological awareness and sustainable manners. Then we would respect the nature and be able to enjoy the beauty of it, without destroying it with pollution. I really hope that we can reach that point one day, though it would be difficult and take a long time, giving the rate of consumption we have now. Nevertheless, I’m still positive we can do our best to achieve it. Starting from small acts, but don’t stop there. Grow those small acts into bigger and bigger actions and encourage people in your surroundings.
What are you passionate about in life?
I love studying and learning something new, and sharing knowledge with others. Reading a new book, trying some DIYs, learning about historical events… Anything that would improve myself, make me gain a new knowledge and be useful not only for me but also for other people around me. I’m always curious to find out about the cause of something, and the impact that would happen.
What is your best memory of the ocean?
My best memory is the beautiful coral reefs and fish when I swim in the ocean. Looking at how they move and interact with each other is always a unique and memorable experience for me. Unfortunately, this memory (and of course the ocean) is polluted with plastics and other harmful pollutants, and I’m keen to swim again in a pristine ocean without plastics.