MIRI: WWF Malaysia has started an urgent project to save the coral reefs off the coastal shores of northern Borneo Island from the increasing risks of coral bleaching.
The environmental body found that pollution and climatic change are causing serious coral bleaching offshore Borneo and other states.
As such, WWF Malaysia is deploying volunteers to check on the health of coral reefs offshore Sabah and Sarawak.
WWF Malaysia Marine Diversity project manager Monique Sumampouw said yesterday that the first team of volunteers had gone to offshore Semporna to check on the corals on the seabed there that were experiencing bleaching.
“WWF Malaysia has found evidences of increasing coral bleaching in the sea off the coastal shores in all parts of the country, especially in those areas where there are a lot of environmental impact.
“For example, here in northern Borneo waters, there is an urgent need to activate an early response plan to tackle these bleaching in the coral reefs on the seabed as these areas are important marine parks.
“Bleaching of coral reefs caused by climate changes and sea pollution as well as human activities, if left unchecked, will cause serious decline in population of marine animals.
She added that WWF Malaysia wanted to work with coastal and island resort operators, marine park officials, diving operators and tour agencies to tackle this issue.
“Coral reefs are very sensitive to environmental impact,” she said in an email to The Star.
She stressed that early measures could be taken to rescue corals affected by bleaching.
She explained that natives living on the coasts, fishermen and even tourists must be educated on the need to be cautious when carrying out activities in waters where coral reefs were found.
WWF Malaysia through its Reef Check Malaysia Unit is enlisting the help of the state marine authorities to help out in the effort to save the coral reefs in the respective states, she added.