Malaysia: Artifical Reefs Enrich Johor's Marine Heritage

Rohani Mohd Ibrahim Bernama 25 Oct 12;

KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 25 (Bernama) -- A properly managed marine heritage and marine biodiversity that is well protected could help generate economic returns through tourism and fishing activities.

Based on the Marine Park Department's statistics, it is estimated that about 500,000 people visit Malaysia's marine parks annually.

Marine tourism activities could well provide additional income to locals and fishermen within marine parks.

The department is entrusted with the responsibility of ensuring the sustainability of marine biodiversity resources through regulation and enforcement, research, education and public awareness, habitat preservation, apart from keeping eco-tourism activities in check.

Currently, a total of 42 islands off the waters of Kedah, Terengganu, Pahang, Johor and the Federal Territory of Labuan have been gazetted as marine parks.


In the eastern waters of Johor, there are a total of 13 islands gazetted as marine parks; Pulau Harimau, Pulau Tengah, Pulau Mensirip, Pulau Goal, Pulau Tinggi, Pulau Besar, Pulau Hujung, Pulau Rawa, Pulau Mentinggi, Pulau Sibu, Pulau Sibu Hujung, Pulau Pemanggil and Pulau Aur.

Each island, including Pulau Besar that is located 42 nautical miles off Mersing, exudes its own profound uniqueness.

Pulau Besar, rich in green flora, is home to 25 families. The island boasts of a female village head, Rashidah Sulaiman, who took over the helm from her husband who passed away in 2010.

According to Rashidah, the island has three resorts and homestay programmes with the visitors' activities there centered on the marine park.

The beautiful white sandy beaches of the island, the placid atmosphere and the subtle sound of the waves provide the perfect atmosphere to relax.

Pulau Rawa that is located half an hour boat ride from Pulau Besar also draws visitors and it is surrounded by colourful reefs that is clearly visible through the crystal clear waters.

The Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment recently took a group of media persons from Kuala Lumpur to witness the launch of Pulau Besar's Recreational Reef Project and to witness the beauty of Pulau Besar and Pulau Rawa marine parks.


On Oct 12, 2012 a symbolic launch was held to anchor 200 units of square concrete reefs at the bottom of the sea. A total of 20 of these artificial reefs, measuring one foot by two feet each, are to be laid underwater in the shape of a big square.

These artificial reefs cost RM100,000 in total and are to be anchored 3.2 nautical miles from Pulau Besar, outside the marine park zone under the demarcation set by the department and the Johor National Park Corporation where fishing activities are allowed.

The recreational reef project is meant to help improve the economic standing of the Pulau Besar residents and those from nearby islands and lure visitors for fishing activities.

Mersing District Officer Mohd Nasir Ali Abdul Salam noted at the event that the artificial reefs would also help enhance fishery resources and in turn help improve the lives of the local communities.

"It is my hope to see that this effort will be emulated by other related government departments in Johor to collectively develop the islands and their communities.

"The recreational reef programme is a follow-up to the working visit by the Deputy Minister of Natural Resources and Environment Tan Sri Joseph Kurup to Pulau Tinggi in 2011," he said.


Johor Marine Park department's director Mohd Nizam Ismail noted that the artificial reefs would serve as a habitat for fishes with commercial value and generate better income for the locals.

"Based on the department's earlier findings, it takes only a week for smaller fishes to take refuge under this reef. The bigger ones, including economically valuable varieties, take up to a month to make their way there.

"The reefs are a fundamental asset to marine life. Other than artificial structures, decommissioned boats too can be anchored onto the sea bed to enhance the marine heritage and to woo divers," he said.

Mohd Nizam added that the reefs would not only entice anglers but would also help fishermen improve their income with bigger catches.

On the progress of the recreational reef, Mohd Nizam explained that so far 50 per cent of the artificial reefs have been anchored to the bottom of the sea.


Mohd Nizam said that the need to preserve the reefs and marine life forms should be relayed to the society as caring for the environment is everyone's responsibility.

"It is hoped that when the significance of the reefs is appreciated, the community and private companies will show interest in sponsoring recreational projects in preserving and enriching the marine biodiversity heritage," he explained.

He added that the department needs the support of all parties for maintaining and preserving the Malaysian marine heritage for the future generation.