Sabah’s coral reefs under big threat

KOTA KINABALU: Large tracts of Sabah’s coral reefs have been wiped out by destructive fishing methods such as fish bombing and the use of cyanide and dragnets.  

More than 10% of coral reefs around the state have been destroyed, said Universiti Malaysia Sabah (UMS) researcher Prof Dr Ridzwan Abdul Rahman. 

“It is getting worse. The reefs are continuously being degraded by destructive fishing activities and this will only reduce the fish in the long run. 

“The coral reef eco system is the heart of fisheries. Of course there are other eco systems such as mangroves but the largest source of fish are the coral reefs,” he said. 

Studies have shown that fish population has, over the years, declined by 75% in the waters off Sabah. 

Dr Ridzwan said that more emphasis was needed to create awareness about the importance of the reefs. 

He said educational efforts that made up the activities during the annual Mabul Marine Day should emphasise the value of the fragile marine reef eco system. 

The marine day kicked off at Pulau Mabul near the diving heaven of Pulau Sipadan yesterday and will go on till Tuesday. Apart from transplanting corals, it would also involve a sea and beach clean up. 

The event, jointly organised by Sabah Tourism, Sipadan Water Village Resort and Borneo Divers, will also see talks given by marine experts from Yokosuka City museum in Japan, Universiti of Hawaii, UMS and WWF.