Malaysia protects Pulau Bidong: only day trippers allowed

Only day trips allowed to Pulau Bidong
New Straits Times 20 Sep 11;

SETIU: Terengganu will ban large tourism projects on Pulau Bidong and its surrounding islands and only allow day trippers, in a bid to to protect the corals and preserve it as a marine heritage island.

State Tourism, Culture, Arts and Heritage Committee chairman Datuk Abdul Rahin Mohd Said said the Pulau Bidong group of islands, comprising a main island and five smaller ones, must be protected as they were the last uninhabited islands in Terengganu.

He said the state government did not want the islands to be turned into other resort islands such as Perhentian and Redang to minimise environmental damage to marine life.

"We want to promote the islands of Pulau Bidong in a such a way that will still protect its environment hence the idea of opening it only to day trippers. Visitors can still come and enjoy the beauty of the corals and marine life but they must leave by end of the day.

"We will need to build the amenities for day-trippers, but it will be on a much smaller scale compared with large-scale construction for resorts," he said after taking part in an underwater signing ceremony of a pledge to safeguard the islands' marine heritage yesterday.

Sixty divers took part and it was certified by the Malaysia Book of Records as the first in Malaysia.

The event was organised by the Malaysia Coral Reef Conservation Society (Coral Malaysia) with the cooperation of Universiti Malaysia Terengganu (UMT) and the Terengganu government.

UMT vice chancellor Prof Datuk Aziz Deraman, who welcomed the move to protect the islands, said the university would make Pulau Bidong its research island.

"Currently, we have a research facility with four laboratories on the island and we will conduct more research on the Pulau Bidong archipelago."

He said research to harness the power of tidal currents, solar and wind would also be conducted on the island, beside marine biology studies.

"We will build a windmill at our research centre on the island to supply electricity and at the same time be a subject of green energy research

"UMT has conducted research into ways to restore dying corals but what is more important is to preserve what we still have."

Coral Malaysia president Jamhariah Jaafar said artificial reefs, known as the Underwater Gallery, around Pulau Bidong had become healthy grounds for coral growth.

"The waters around Pulau Bidong have many fascinating diving sites which can be promoted to create public awareness about our marine heritage."