Act fast on turtle conservation – Masidi

Pang with the four scuba children after receiving their participation certificates.

Pang in the turtle measuring and tagging session.

SEMPORNA: Minister of Tourism, Culture and Environment Datuk Masidi Manjun has urged marine scientists from Borneo Marine Research Institute, Universiti Malaysia Sabah (UMS), to work with the corporate sector to help them perform their corporate social responsibility in marine biodiversity conservation efforts in Sabah.

Masidi said Sabah would emerge as a showcase of cooperation among the various sectors of society in joining hands in the conservation of marine biodiversity.

He said their role in conserving the highly complex marine biodiversity of Sabah should be understood so that a comprehensive management framework could evolve.

“This should happen really fast since climate change is happening in a way that the whole marine ecosystem, of which turtles are a part, is facing increasing stress,” Masidi said in a speech was delivered by Assistant Minister Datuk Pang Yuk Ming during World Turtle Day 2013 at Uncle Chang’s Sipadan Mabul Dive Lodge here, yesterday morning.

“Marine turtles are so unique in our ecosystem that they deserve world attention. Although considerable research has been carried out, lifestyles and behavior of these animals are so complex that more investigations are needed to answer some key questions of their natural history.

“Their migration pattern, perception of environmental cues, modes of navigation and even sex differentiation are the aspects of their biology which still need a great deal of research to understand.

“I therefore strongly support the scientific investigations that UMS researchers are carrying out. There has to be a scientific basis for management of natural resources and in this context, studies on turtles assume special importance in their conservation,” Masidi said.

Masidi said such elements of cooperation between UMS academia and the corporate sector would augur well for the conservation of marine living resources of our state.

“This kind of cooperation can deliver a powerful message to all sections of society to develop care for nature and our marine natural heritage.”

He believed that local marine turtle conservation efforts could have a significant impact not only on the resident turtle population but the regional and global stocks of this unique animal.

“Ignoring the importance of local conservation efforts is ignoring the fundamental facts of turtle biology,” he said.

“Sabah is home to a nesting turtle population and a habitat for migrating turtles which spend time here and enrich our marine ecosystem.

“There are inherent checks and balances in the complex ocean ecosystem. There are bound to be adverse implications if we interfere with these processes,” he said.

Masidi said he would like to see an end to the consumption of turtles and their eggs, protection of their habitat, especially nesting grounds and development of turtle sanctuaries in marine parks.

His ministry will seriously consider scientific prescriptions, or recommendation of the scientists-corporate sector platforms such as this one formed to celebrate World Turtle Day.

Meanwhile, UMS vice-chancellor Professor Datuk Dr Mohd Harun Abdullah hoped scientists and partners in this World Turtle Day event would be able to deliver a powerful message and organise programs that could engage larger sections of the community to turn into stewards of marine turtle conservation.

He would also like to see active scientific projects on marine turtles which could provide innovative pathways leading to their conservation.

A group of pupils from SK Mabul and children from Mabul village, had also been invited to the event while four pupils from SK Pekan Semporna I, had been chosen to join Kids Scuba Padi without any charges, aimed to create awareness from children on the importance of conserving the marine ecosystem.

The four pupils are Sharifah Najwa Amni, Nur Ainah Bt Zainul, Nur Qamarina Bt Sonny and Danial Hafiz Zulkifli. Also present were the director of Uncle Chang’s Sipadan Mabul Dive Lodge, Uncle Chang and other invited guests.

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