Malaysia: Wetlands panel praises Sabah's fishery system

Joniston Bangkuai New Straits Times 21 Jul 11;

KOTA KINABALU: Sabah's unique community-based "tagal" system practised by the natives to protect rivers from indiscriminate fishing, is now internationally recognised.

It was included among a "10-Point Call of Action" adopted at the three-day Asian Wetland Symposium (AWS) which ended here yesterday.

Impressed with the effectiveness of the system, the 322 participants of the meeting agreed that it should be used as a model for fisheries resource management.

The "tagal" is a stakeholder-driven system to rehabilitate, protect and conserve river environments, and to manage the fisheries resources for its sustainable development.

The system is being practised in 212 locations in Sabah, involving 107 rivers in 11 districts.

The enforcement of the "tagal" is through the imposition of native customary laws that are backed by the Native Court.

AWS also made a call to recognise the natural and cultural capital provided by forests and wetlands to support livelihood to meet the daily needs of local people and rural communities.

The symposium also highlighted the need to promote integrated management systems that incorporate socio-economic priorities, the rights and responsibilities of local communities, and innovativeness and approaches in the restoration and conservation of forests and wetlands.

Sabah's hope for the Kota Kinabalu Wetlands Centre (KKWC) to be accorded Ramsar status looks bright following a visit by senior officials of the Ramsar Convention to the site last Tuesday.

Impressed with the management of the KKWC and recognising its importance to the city and the state, the officials indicated its support for it to be given Ramsar status.

The Ramsar Convention is an inter-governmental treaty that embodies the commitment to maintain the ecological character of wetlands.