JOHOR BARU: The state government will leave it to the experts to come up with suitable suggestions on the best way to protect and conserve marine life, especially the endangered dugong.
Johor Health and Environment Committee chairman Datuk Ayub Rahmat said they were in talks with consultants on the setting up of a marine park near Mersing, which will include a dugong sanctuary.
“We will not rule out suggestions to use a tagging system to monitor the movement of dugong. We will also explore other experts’ advice.
“We want to ensure that the method carried out to protect the sea mammal is the most suitable to avoid any future issues,” he said.
Ayub said currently, their focus was on sourcing for the best spot among the islands off Mersing to build the marine park.
He added that Johor Ruler Sultan Ibrahim ibni Almarhum Sultan Iskandar was expected to pre-launch the Sultan Iskandar Marine Park in July.
It will just be a soft launch while the operational aspects and mechanisms of creating the park will be discussed in the next six months, he said, adding that RM1mil set aside was just a start-up allocation.
Ayub said the state government would seek more allocations, including from the Federal Government, following discussions with the experts.
For now, the RM1mil would be utilised to identify and measure the exact location, instal buoys to mark the areas as well as to construct a monument for the park, he added.
He also pointed out that it was unfair to solely blame developments as the cause for the dwindling number of dugong along the most southern part of the state.
“We also have to take environmental changes into consideration including water pollution due to the discharge of waste or oil spills as well as the speed of huge vessels passing through the area.
“Our studies show that the islands off Mersing are still rich with the dugong’s staple diet – seagrass. This is likely why the sea mammal has been spotted there more often these past few years,” he said.
The Sunday Star reported on the dwindling number of dugong, also known as sea cow, around southern Johor, which used to be a haven for the shy creatures due to the abundance of seagrass there.
Experts claimed that they have been migrating to the eastern part of the state near Mersing where seagrass is ample.