Friday, September 28, 2012

Expedition to gather data for proposed Tun Mustapha Marine Park

KOTA KINABALU: An expedition at the proposed Tun Mustapha Marine Park hopes to gather data to provide a strong basis for gazetting the park into a protected area.

So far, its preliminary results during an expedition from September 6 to 26, found certain species of fish and coral are in fact under threat due to human activities such as fish bombing and overfishing.

The group consisted of marine biologists from Malaysia, Netherlands and Australia who assessed the marine biodiversity and ecology in the park as well as the socio-economic benefits of its marine ecosystems to local communities.

The expedition was organised by the Borneo Marine Research Institute of Universiti Malaysia Sabah (UMS), Naturalis Biodiversity Centre (The Netherlands), Sabah Parks, and WWF-Malaysia.

The survey covered areas in the proposed Tun Mustapha Marine Park which roughly spans from Kudat to Pulau Banggi.

A press conference was held at the UMS yesterday to announce its preliminary results.

UMS vice-chancellor, Professor Dr Mohd Harun Abdullah said that the marine park, covering an area of 1.02 million hectares, if protected, will help the conservation of marine biodiversity and promote sustainable development of fisheries that provide livelihood to the coastal communities.

“A marine park is generally associated with the development of ecotourism infrastructure which contributes to socioeconomic benefits and offers alternative means of livelihood. When gazetted, this park too will immensely benefit the society,” he said in his speech delivered by deputy vice-chancellor (research & innovation) Prof Dr Shahril Yusof.