Malaysia: Initiative underway to preserve Sabah’s marine resources

The Star 25 Aug 14;

KOTA KINABALU: An integrated coastal zone management (ICZM) initiative is being introduced to help arrest the deterioration of Sabah’s marine and coastal resources.

The “Coastal and Marine Resources Management in the Coral Triangle: Southeast Asia Project”, which has been set up to look into the issue, is focusing on Marudu Bay.

Located in the Kudat district, Marudu Bay is part of the proposed Tun Mustapha Park – a project approved by the state government in 2003

The project deputy team leader, Datuk Dr Beth Baikan, said there was an urgency to carry out the work in view of a decline in fish landings due to fish traps and the deteriorating mussel industry which used to be a livelihood for coastal communities.

“ICZM is relevant if we want to ensure long term food security in Sabah,” Dr Baikan said.

She said the two-year project hoped to conclude with a firm ICZM plan for implementation. Their inception meeting was held in Kudat on Aug 19 and 20, attended by some 50 officials from state ministries, departments and agencies.

The ICZM concept was introduced in Sabah in the 1990s by the Danish International Development Agency in partnership with the state government.

Prof Datuk Nor Aieni Moktar, who is the project’s resource person, had made numerous visits to Marudu Bay while she was the director of national oceanography directorate with the Science, Technology and Innovation Ministry.

Nor Aieni said ICZM was a dynamic process for the sustainable management and the use of coastal zones.

“The livelihood of the local community is enhanced through sustainable management of coastal resources,” she said.

She said there were sufficient natural assets in the area to be conserved and packaged into attractive eco-tourism products, citing the mangroves, proboscis monkeys, birds (53 species documented) and river tours.

The project is a regional technical assistance of the Asian Development Bank in partnership with the National Coordinating Committee of the Coral Triangle Initiative on Coral Reefs, Fisheries and Food Security in Malaysia.