Youth take the lead in restoring coral reefs at Kulapuan island

KOTA KINABALU: Youths here held a coral restoration initiative at Semporna island on Sabah’s East coast.

More than 20 young participants aged between 15 and 30 participated in the four-day programme that began on Sept 29.

It was led by Reef Check Malaysia at Kulapuan Island and funded by the IKI Small Grants Programme.

The programme deployed 30 metal frames with 450 coral fragments to rejuvenate the reefs surrounding Kulapuan Island.

One participant, Siti Rugaiyah, known as YenYen, said she was grateful for the experience.

"Although we've lived on the island, we never had the opportunity to dive and plant a coral.

“It was through this programme with Reef Check Malaysia that several of us were trained as divers, learned about coral monitoring, and are now actively involved in coral restoration.

“I am now more committed than ever to protecting what we have here in our Kulapuan waters,” she said in a statement on Thursday (Oct 5).

Reef Check Malaysia programme manager Adzmin Fatta said the coral reefs were some of the most vibrant when he first visited Kulapuan Island 10 years ago.

“However, in recent years, I was saddened to see that most reefs had disappeared due to destructive fishing methods.

“Fortunately, there is still hope. The youth group here are dedicated, and through Reef Check Malaysia, I hope I can enable them to lead in bringing back the beautiful reefs that they once had,” he said.

In addition to the restoration efforts, he said, Reef Check Malaysia also conducted a series of community engagement and educational programmes, including marine awareness talks with local islanders, with a special focus on the younger generation.

More than 90 villagers, primarily children, enthusiastically participated in these sessions, he added.

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