Malaysia: Sabah to find win-win formula for marine park

Muguntan Vanar The Star 11 Jul 13;

KOTA KINABALU: A practical approach to strike a balance between biodiversity conservation and protecting people’s interest is being worked out under the proposed Tun Mustapha Marine Park.

State Special Task Minister Datuk Teo Chee Kang said traditional fishermen and farmers would not be affected by the marine park that covers some 50 islands in the northern districts of Kudat, Kota Marudu and Pitas.

“The aim of the park is to protect the eco-system for generations to come. The government is working towards creating a win-win situation for everyone,” he said.

He said the concept of the proposed 1.02 million hectare park was aimed at strict protection for certain areas, tourism, traditional fishing and commercial fishing.

Teo said that claims by the Opposition that the people’s lands would be taken over by the government once the marine park was gazetted were untrue as steps were being taken to ensure traditional fishermen could continue their livelihood.

He said there had been no decision so far on the exact areas where commercial fishing would be stopped.

At the moment, various agencies, including Sabah Parks, and research groups are gathering data and in dialogue with stakeholders and the local communities.

Teo, who is the Tanjung Kapor assemblyman from Kudat, said the technical details of the marine park were still being worked out, adding that he could not give a time frame when it would be gazetted.

The proposed park that comes under Coral Triangle Initiative is recognised as an important area for the implementation of its objectives for the ecosystem approach to fisheries management.