8th August, 2012
KOTA KINABALU: Non-profit organisation Reef Check Malaysia (RCM) is to launch a coral reef rehabilitation and education project on Mantanani Island off the Sabah west coast this month, primarily to reduce fish bombing.
The project will be undertaken with financial support from Murphy Oil Corporation, RCM said in a statement, yesterday.
Fish bombing involves the use of explosives to stun or kill schools of fish for easy collection, it said, adding that the illegal practice is extremely destructive to the coral reef ecosystem as the explosion often destroys the surrounding habitat.
“It reduces the area around the blast (typically around 20 sq metres) to lifeless rubble and recovery rates are often very slow due to the unfavourable conditions rendered from the bomb blast,” it said.
RCM said the project on Mantanani Island would be able to address this through two phases.
The first involves rehabilitating areas of coral reefs around the island using a coral reef rehabilitation methodology developed by RCM and Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia, and demonstrated successfully at several projects in peninsular Malaysia.
Other than helping the surrounding reefs recover faster, this will also demonstrate that reefs are living organisms and can recover from fish bombing damage.
The second phase will use the coral reef rehabilitation nurseries as a base for educating the local community and other stakeholders about the importance of coral reefs, and the need for their conservation.
This will include reef education, awareness campaigns through communication materials targeted at local residents and tourists alike, exploring opportunities to establish marine managed areas and creating alternative employment opportunities for the local community.
RCM said the project with Murphy Oil Corporation complements ongoing programmes that RCM started in Sabah since the middle of last year.
These include a fish bomb report system that was set up to monitor and collect data on the frequency and location of fish bombing incidents, a mobile education programme visiting schools in major towns and cities that are recognised as fish bombing “hotspots”, and campaigns to raise awareness among the general public of the importance and value of coral reefs.