Monday, June 10, 2013

World-class education at new Marine Research Centre on Sugud Islands

SANDAKAN: The Sabah Wildlife Department, Reef Guardian Sdn Bhd and Cardiff University recently signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to establish the Sugud Islands Marine Research Centre (SIMRC) on Billean Island, within the Sugud Islands Marine Conservation Area (SIMCA), on the east coast of Sabah.

Assistant Sabah Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Pang Yuk Ming, who witnessed the signing of the MoU, said that on December 3, 2001, the State Government of Sabah declared three islands comprising Lankayan, Tegaipil and Billean as well as surrounding coastal shallow reef areas of approximately 46,317 hectares as Sugud Islands Marine Conservation Area.

“SIMCA has been playing for more than 12 years a key role in managing coral reef conservation for the long-term benefits of eco-tourism and the biodiversity of marine life.

“Now, Reef Guardian that was appointed to fully manage SIMCA with close cooperation with Sabah Wildlife Department is embarking on a new initiative together with Cardiff University: the setting up of a marine research centre to enhance research and conservation of the marine ecosystem and scientifically assess the success of the conservation area.

“I am extremely proud to be part of this initiative that will certainly increase the interest of local and international scientists for coral reef ecosystem research in the region, and will certainly boost eco-tourism in the east coast of Sabah,” he said.

Davies Austin Spiji, research officer at Reef Guardian and manager of SIMRC, said the objectives of SIMRC are to enhance knowledge and skills on marine research and monitoring through joint training, workshops and research for effective management of marine resources and biodiversity conservation.

“SIMRC will also provide training and teaching facilities to local and international universities and institutions for hand-on field experiences in tropical coral reef ecosystem,” added Davies.

“Finally, SIMRC will facilitate restocking of commercially important and threatened marine species in Sabah region through mariculture practices and promote awareness on marine conservation to public and local stakeholders,” said Davies.