NGO launches Sabah branch to conserve reefs

KOTA KINABALU: Reef Check Malaysia, a Kuala Lumpur-based non-profit organization, has launched a branch in Sabah to better enhance the health status of coral reefs here.

Programme manager Nattelee Lim, 26, said the Sabah branch was set up in April this year, but efforts to monitor coral reefs in the state had started earlier.

“We want to tell people why it is important to take care of reefs and how they would affect our daily life,” he said.

Reef Check Malaysia, he said, carries out reef rehabilitation programmes, such as setting up a nursery to help restore damaged reef area.

Lim said they have identified several sites in Semporna and Lankayan Island in Sandakan for coral reef survey.

“We have a few sites in Mabul, Mataking and Pom Pom Isalnds; we work with resort operators and NGOs,” he said.

Reef Check Malaysia also conducts eco-diver course to train divers for reef check survey, as well as organizing educational and awareness activities for school students and local communities.

On the survey on coral reefs in Semporna, Lim said it has found that activities such as fish bombing and coastal development were destroying the reefs.

Lim said they plan to carry out programmes such as establishing more coral reef survey sites, conducting more eco-diver training and holding awareness programmes that focus on fish bombing issues.

She also plans to expand the survey sites here as the result of the survey could contribute to decision making.

“I’d like to work with academians such as professors from Universiti Malaysia Sabah (UMS) for planned projects in Sabah,” she said.

Lim previously worked with WWF-Malaysia in Semporna, and has been involved in eco-diving and coral reef survey prior to joining Reef Check Malaysia.

The launch of Reef Check Malaysia Sabah branch yesterday attracted stakeholders such as dive operators, NGOs, members from Marine Research Foundation and KK Reef Watch.

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