Thursday, December 20, 2012

Sabah Parks staff undergo training to keep reefs safe

KOTA KINABALU: Some 20 staff members of Sabah Parks can now carry out detailed checks on reefs at the marine conservation areas off the state.

The staff, trained by non-profit firm Reef Check Malaysia (RCM), will monitor the health of coral reefs around the state.

RCM general manager Julian Hyde said the Nov 19 to 30 training would enable the staff to identify Reef Check indicator species.

“These include certain fish and invertebrates that are commercially valuable,” he said.

Reef Check objectives are to educate the public about the coral reef crisis; to create a global network of volunteer teams trained in Reef Check's scientific methods that monitor and report on reef health; to facilitate collaboration that produces ecologically sound and economically sustainable solutions; and to stimulate local community action to protect the remaining pristine reefs and rehabilitate damaged reefs worldwide.

He said the Sabah Parks staff from stations in Sandakan, Semporna, Kota Kinabalu, Kudat and Kuala Penyu were also trained to differentiate between the different types of substrates hard and soft coral and sponges and ascidians that make up a reef.

Hyde said the training was conducted at waters off Pulau Manukan at the Tunku Abdul Rahman Park in Kota Kinabalu.

“Several elements have been integrated into the course, including classroom sessions, in-water training for buoyancy, photo identification assessments as well as final theory assessments.”