Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Luconia Shoals fit to be Unesco World Heritage site

MIRI: Luconia Shoals, which is a 10-hour boat ride from the city, is a world-class act for sports fishing enthusiasts and divers. It also boasts oil and gas, making the area a treasure trove.

But Luconia Shoals also has another attraction that would deem it fit to be listed as a Unesco World Heritage site.

Lying on the seabed of the largest reef complex in the South China Sea is a British cargo vessel – Viscount Melbourne – that sank more than 150 years ago.

Amateur marine archaeologist Hans Berekoven, who discovered Viscount Melbourne in 2011, said getting the site of the shipwreck onto the Unesco World Heritage list would at least protect the Luconia Shoals.

“Not so much for its treasure, if one may ask of the shipwreck. Just cutleries and bottles of really well-aged wines that are no longer consumable among the wrecks found,” Berekoven told The Borneo Post when met at his vessel at Miri Marina Bay recently.

“However, the Malaysian government must first understand how important Luconia Shoals is to the country. By getting it listed, it would help protect the shoals, among others, from intruders.”

Voicing his concern over a recent encroachment of Luconia Shoals by a China Coast Guard vessel, Berekoven said the incident should be treated as a wake-up call of sorts.

“China is elbowing its way here. Despite the fact that Luconia Shoals lies within Malaysia’s Exclusive Economic Zone, it could still argue its right over the place, and I don’t know what will happen if no further action is taken.”

Berekoven added in this present situation, it was more appropriate to put a structure on the island and plant a Malaysian flag there.

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