ISKANDAR PUTERI, Nov 22 — Malaysia has so far only gazetted 4.3 per cent of the country’s waters as marine protected areas (MPAs), the Johor State Assembly was told today.
State Agriculture, Agro-based Industry and Rural Development Committee chairman Datuk Samsolbari Jamali said Malaysia, as a member of the United Nations (UN) and Convention on Biological Diversity, needs to gazette at least 10 per cent of its waters as MPAs.
Referring to the gazetting of the Mersing archipelago, he said there were additional gazetting of waters in the archipelago — seven islands and four rocks covering an area of 299 square kilometres.
“The gazetting of these islands as Sultan Iskandar Marine Park under Section 41, Fisheries Act 1985 (Act 317) is important for the following justifications, among them, to preserve the species and natural habitat of the marine life.
“These gazetting efforts will contribute towards achieving the targets set under the Aichi Biodiversity Targets, the Convention on Biological Diversity and Goal 14: Life Below Water under the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs),” he said during the 14th State Legislative Assembly at the Sultan Ismail Building, here, today.
Samsolbari (Umno-Semarang) said this when replying to Liow Cai Tung (PH-Johor Jaya), in the oral question-and-answer session, about the state government’s efforts to protect the country’s valuable marine wildlife in the Mersing archipelago other than the area being just a tourist attraction.
He said the Sultan Iskandar Marine Park is rich in rocks and coral reefs, and its waters are the main migration passage for a variety of marine species including turtles, dolphins and dugongs.
“The Johor Fisheries Department has confirmed the presence of dugongs, whale sharks, manta rays and dolphins in this marine park. If these waters are gazetted, the marine wildlife here will be able to reproduce and grow well without disturbance and threat to its habitat,” he added.
He said the fisherman’s economic resources will also be secured as the habitat and breeding areas of the marine life will be protected.
In addition, the presence of the wildlife species will be a direct source of income for locals who venture into ecotourism due to the diversity of marine life that can also attract visitors, especially divers who want to enjoy the beauty of the ocean floor, he said.
He said through various programmes and facilities, the fisheries community there could shift their focus to tourism, transportation and services sectors to generate income.
Apart from that, the gazetting will also address the risk of encroachment by foreign fishermen as well as the encroachment of fishing zones that damage the marine ecosystem, he said, adding that there will also be potential for pharmaceutical and biotechnology research purposes.
Source: BERNAMA News Agency