Best of our wild blogs: 19 Sep 17

Oil palm firms advance into Leuser rainforest, defying Aceh governor’s orders

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Malaysia: RM60 million needed to operate Malaysia's largest marine park for first five years

KRISTY INUS New Straits Times 18 Sep 17;

KOTA KINABALU: A total of RM60 million is needed to operate the Tun Mustapha Park (TMP), Malaysia’s largest marine park, for its first five years (2017-2021).

WWF-Malaysia, announcing this during a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signing with Sabah Parks today, will assist the latter in developing a financial plan which could cover income generation or fundraising strategies, as well as sustainable financing.

The 10-year agreement solidifies the existing cooperation between the non-governmental organisation (NGO) and the conservation-based government body in taking care of the 898,762-hectare TMP.

The TMP, gazetted last year, spans three districts (Kudat, Kota Marudu and Pitas).

WWF-Malaysia chief executive officer Datuk Dr Dionysius S.K. Sharma and Sabah Parks director Dr Jamili Nais signed the MoU, witnessed by State Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Seri Masidi Manjun.

Dionysius said WWF-Malaysia is committed to co-funding the TMP management and operation office, the TMP regulations development, sustainable financing mechanism and conservation, led by the state government.

“TMP is a global symbol of how we can collectively commit to protecting the environment while local communities continue to live in a sustainable manner.

“People must understand that the gazetting measure is just the first step in a long journey.

“Right now, there are over 80,000 coastal and island folk living in the area. We don’t know how many there will be in the future but the goal is for them to have better life in a sustainable manner,” he said.

WWF-Malaysia Marine Programme’s People and Biodiversity manager Monique Sumampouw said that 85 per cent of locals surveyed indicated that the gazetting measure had a positive impact.

She said the MoU will focus on the protection and restoration of coral reefs, sea grass and mangroves as well as key species like sea turtles, dugong, sharks and commercially-valuable fish.

Meanwhile, Masidi said the gazetting of such parks require political will. Its impact, she said, may not be seen in the short term but will benefit the people in the future.

“I would like to give an example where a few days ago, a massive cleanup was conducted at the Kudat coastline, where many plastic bottles were collected. Surprisingly, some of the bottles came from other parts of the world, even as far as Saudi Arabia.

“So do not think that what we do in TMP only benefits only Kudat and Sabah; it affects people all over the world.

“We should not opt for shortcuts and short-term benefits but make decisions that allow people to prosper, generation after generation.

“I hope that leaders, wherever they are, will do more of what is right instead of what is popular. I hope what we did will encourage others to follow suit,” said the minister.

He also stressed on the importance of being realistic when it comes to gazetting more marine parks.

“I believe the shortest time frame for the next one (to be gazetted) is maybe ten years. I am saying this to keep expectations within limits. There is a lot of work to be done and there are various technicalities involved,” he said.

Masidi had earlier this month said that the government had identified Mantanani Island off Kota Belud and its surrounding areas as the next potential marine park.

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Malaysia: Sabah seeks to ban shark hunting

The Star 19 Sep 17;

KOTA KINABALU: Sabah is looking to put in place a total ban on shark hunting and finning in all six of its marine parks by the end of the year.

State Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Seri Masidi Manjun said amendments to the Sabah Parks Enactment to allow the ban will be tabled at the state assembly budget sitting, which is scheduled for November.

“Once in place, we can act against those who are hunting or finning within the park,” he said after meeting with the Sabah Shark Protection Association, which will be organising its second Alternatives to Shark Fin Soup Exhibition here on Nov 11.

He said the state government’s move would harmonise with the federal Fisheries Depart­ment to ban certain types of shark hunting and trading.

“It is important to conserve and preserve sharks, which among other reasons, will also bring in more in tourism revenue.

“Since the campaign began, awareness of the issue has increased among Sabahans.

“I am happy to note that shark’s fin soup for many has become a taboo and they avoid it and seek other options,” he said.

Amendments proposed to turn Sabah marine parks into shark sanctuaries
AVILA GERALDINE New Straits Times 18 Sep 17;

KOTA KINABALU: The Sabah Tourism, Culture and Environment Ministry’s legal department is in the midst of preparing amendments to the Sabah Parks Enactment 1984 in a move to turn all six marine parks in the state into shark sanctuaries.

Its minister, Datuk Seri Masidi Manjun, said amendments to the enactment would be tabled at the state assembly once the review was finalised.

The marine parks are Tunku Abdul Rahman Park, Tun Sakaran Marine Park, Tun Mustapha Park, Pulau Tiga Park, Turtle Islands Park and Sipadan Island Park.

“There are certain requirements to amend certain provisions of the law, which we hope to table in this coming assembly session. We have had some positive achievements in trying to get our sharks fully protected.

“Even the federal authorities are now more engaging in (Sabah’s) request for amendments to the Fisheries Act 1985 that would allow total banning of shark fishing for certain category of species.

“Sabah has a lot of sharks and we are trying to protect all species. This, of course, requires a bit of adjustment to the Fisheries Act so we can harmonise the law relating to the protection of sharks in both federal and state laws,” he said.

Masidi was speaking at a press conference on the Alternative To Shark Fin Soup Exhibition, which will be held on Nov 11 at Imago Mall, here.

Present were Sabah Shark Protection Association (SSPA) president Aderick Chong, Imago acting marketing manager Rustam Ahmad, Go Seafood Sdn Bhd chief executive officer and executive director, Mikhail Razak Harris and Chua Hua Beng.

Masidi said he had held informal discussions with leaders from Kuala Lumpur and noted that they had begun to understand the situation Sabah was facing and pursuing with regards to shark conservation.

“I am also happy to note that the public are now quick to respond when they see photos of slaughtered sharks in the market. This shows Sabahans are now aware of the need to protect marine species.

“Sometimes, this issue crops up and I get a message on Facebook, saying ‘Masidi, where are you?’. Well, I’m still in KK and I’m still the minister but (jokes aside) there is no law that gives authority to the minister to take action against this.

“There is no law to allow us to stop shark fishing. So, I hope the people understand this and if indeed there is a law (banning shark fishing), I will be in the forefront to ensure it does not happen,” he said.

Currently, the Sabah Fisheries Department has listed whale sharks and sawfish (ray species) as protected and threatened under the Fisheries (Control of Endangered Species of Fish) Regulations 1999 and Fisheries Act 1985.

The department has proposed another four shark and two ray species, which have been listed under the Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species 2008, to be categorised as threatened under the Fisheries Act.

The sharks are Sphyrna mokarran (great hammerhead shark), Sphyrna zygaena (smooth hammerhead shark), Eusphyra blochii (winghead shark) and the Carcharhinus longimanus (oceanic whitetip shark). The rays are Manta birostris (oceanic manta) and Manta alfredi (reef manta).

As the diving industry is one of Sabah’s active segments in spurring the state’s economy, Masidi said shark conservation must be emphasised to prevent species extinction such as what has befallen the Sumatran rhinoceros.

“I’m personally happy that SSPA is continuously educating the public. Ensuring total protection (of sharks) lies in our attitude. The laws can only be effective if there is strict enforcement, but our attitude determines whether our sharks survive.”

Meanwhile, Chong said the upcoming Alternative To Shark Fin Soup Exhibition focused on creating awareness and introducing substitutes for the dish to the public.

He said a similar event was organised in 2012 when many restaurants and hotels were still serving shark fin soup.

“However, this time around some (restaurants and hotels) have given

up, or rather struck off their menus, and this year we are stepping up our event with the support of Go Seafood, which produces Royal Empura products.

“The Empura fish is a sustainable resource, prestigious and expensive compared to shark fins. So we have a good alternative this year, together with birds nest.

“We have put up a really good fight against shark fin soup and now we have a ‘contender’. Hopefully, there will be more restaurants participating in the exhibition,” he said.

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Malaysia: Sarawak Forestry Department sending out strong message to timber thieves

Goh Pei Pei New Straits Times 18 Sep 17;

KUCHING: The Sarawak Forestry Department has defended its latest move in destroying on-the-spot, illegal logs seized during operations against timber thieves.

Its director Sapuan Ahmad said the department wanted to send a strong message against timber thieves that Sarawak was serious about putting an end to illegal logging.

The move, he said, was aimed at addressing allegations that the department had its hand in the auction of the illegal logs.

“Previously, all logs seized during our operations would be auctioned off.

“However, there were quarters accusing our officers of working together with potential buyers of the logs (for quick money).

“So, we decided to address this allegation by burning all logs found illegally felled on the spot at the scene of the raid.

“This is regardless of the value of the logs,” he told reporters here today.

The New Straits Times recently reported that the department had destroyed 300 logs, which were left abandoned in Batang Belawai, Sarikei near here.

Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Abdul Rahman Zohari Abang Openg had also consented to the move.

“It was the first time we had destroyed the logs and we will continue to do so, especially in the remote areas which could hardly be reached by road.

“We are serious about this. We will also not hesitate to destroy machinery and vehicles used for illegal logging.

“This is our fight against illegal logging. We should always remember the late Tan Sri Adenan Satem's words, whereby enough is enough,” he said.

Earlier, Sapuan attended the launching of the GEODRONE Initiative at the Sarawak Forestry Corporation (SFC) office here.

During the launching ceremony, Abdul Rahman Zohari, in his speech, said Sarawak can no longer depend on the conventional way of patrolling and manual effort in forest management.

Sarawak Forestry Department, he said, should make good use of technology to combat illegal logging, and to manage and to preserve the forest resources.

“The timber industry is an important sector, which contributes to the state's economy. Thus, we need to have effective forest management to ensure sustainability in the industry,” he said.

The chief minister had also proposed for SFC to conduct research and development for the establishment of an Industrial Forest, to look for tree species that can harvested within a few short years.

“With this, we don't have to rely on our primary forest,” he said.

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