Task force set up to probe coral theft

Illegal harvest: An unidentified person loading coral harvested from waters off Semporna.

KOTA KINABALU: A special task force has been set up to look into reports that coral is being stolen from the waters of diving haven Semporna after pictures of people unloading the marine invertebrates from a boat went viral on social media.

Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Christina Liew said the task force, which would comprise Sabah Parks and Sabah Wildlife Department, was tasked with putting a stop to such activity in waters that are also home to the renowned Pulau Sipadan. The two departments, she added, would be working with Sabah Fisheries Department to tackle the problem. “They will conduct a full investigation and take appropriate action under the law, ” Liew said yesterday.

However, Liew said the coral stealing activities were not within the Sipadan Island Park and Tun Sakaran Marine Park area comprising at least five islands as well as reefs measuring some 350sq km.

“We take this issue of harvesting coral seriously. We cannot allow this to continue.

“Such activities are not only destroying the natural marine habitat of Semporna and affecting fishermen as well as the tourism industry, but Sabah’s image in the international community, ” said Liew, who is also the state Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister.


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