Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Sipadan under siege by illegal divers

KOTA KINABALU: More divers are illegally going to the environmentally-sensitive diving haven of Pulau Sipadan in the east coast of Sabah.

The stipulated number of divers a day is 120 but dive operators have been taking as many 200.

This led to friction between the operators and Sabah Parks officials when divers without a proper permit were stopped from entering the diving haven, according to a recent consultant’s report.

In January, a daily average of 141 divers visited the island, with the number going up to 159 in February.

It was 219 in March, 235 in April and 201 in May.

In April, 12 dive operators took 4,999 people with permits and 2,095 more without permits to Sipadan.

In May, 3,975 people with permits and 2,353 without permits went there.

Sabah Parks, which took over the management of the island's facilities in April, is responsible for issuing permits to the dive operators.

Source: The Star

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