Marine Parks Dept takes steps to protect coral reefs

  • Nation
  • Thursday, 19 May 2016

PETALING JAYA: The Marine Parks Department is moving to protect Malaysia’s valuable coral reefs following warnings that they are in danger due to rising sea surface temperatures.

Malaysia was recently notified of the danger by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), which indicated that sea surface temperatures in some of Malaysia’s waters were above average, and the coral reefs might soon be exposed to thermal stress.

Coral bleaching was a possibility, added the US scientific agency.

The “Bleaching Watch” notification for Malaysia was issued on May 2 under NOAA’s Coral Reef Watch Programme.

The programme publishes satellite data on sea surface temperatures, providing an indication of current reef environmental conditions to quickly identify areas at risk of coral bleaching.

Natural Resources and Environ­ment Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar noted that coral bleaching was a major threat to the health of reefs and deserved serious attention due to its implications for marine biodiversity, fisheries and tourism in Malaysia.

He said following the mass coral reef bleaching in 2010, the Coral Reef Bleaching Response Committee was set up to address future bleaching events.

“The committee is monitoring the situation and consulting with stakeholders to develop appropriate management responses,” Dr Wan Junaidi said in a statement.

The committee will begin surveys of coral reefs and track the onset of any bleaching.

Coral bleaching, according to NOAA, happens when corals are stressed by changes in conditions such as temperature, light or nutrients and they expel the symbiotic algae living in their tissues, causing them to turn completely white.

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