Monday, March 3, 2008


Protecting coral reefs off Sabah


The Chief Executive Officer of WWF-Malaysia has stressed the need for every individual to be aware of the importance of protecting coral reefs from threats and playing their part, which is the fundamental objective of the International Year of the Reef 2008. Dr Dionysius S.K. Sharma said that in Malaysia, individuals, the government and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) are creating partnerships with the very intention to save the reefs. He said: “Malaysia has extraordinary reefs, home to hundreds of species of reef- building corals and countless other species, which make up an incomparable kaleidoscope of marine biodiversity. “The reef cover in Malaysia is approximately 3,600km with 75 percent situated off the coast of Sabah, roughly five times the size of Singapore. “Coral reefs serve to provide livelihoods through fisheries and tourism, and protect coastlines from erosion, among others. “Malaysia’s reefs are under the same pressures faced by reefs globally, caused by human activities such as unsustainable fishing practices and unplanned coastal development, a lack of adequate waste management systems, habitat destruction and climate change. “This is reflected by the fact that for the first time, corals have ended up on the World Conservation Union’s (IUCN’s) Red List of Threatened Species, a list, as its name suggests, identifies species requiring immediate safeguard measures.” Dr Dionysius said that in view of this, WWF-Malaysia, as well as like-minded NGOs and governmental bodies, are pooling resources to save our coral reefs. He said the efforts are made through trans-border collaborations under the Coral Triangle Initiative involving Indonesia, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea, the Philippines, Solomon Islands and Timor-Leste and implementation of the Sulu-Sulawesi Marine Ecoregion Action Plans, spearheaded by the governments of three nations - Indonesia, Malaysia and Philippines. He said it is important for every individual to learn more about our rich marine heritage as individual behaviour and actions, whether at sea or on land, have an impact on the marine environment. “Visit the marine park and conserve water, dispose of trash properly, practise responsible diving and snorkeling, support reef-friendly businesses or, if you are in the business, exercise positive codes of practice and get involved in cleanup activities,” he said. “All these and much more are ways in which we can all contribute towards ensuring the survival of our reefs, our heritage.”