Wednesday, September 23

Reef ball projects to protect marine biodiversity – Len

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A BETTER ENVIRONMENT: Awang Tengah (holding banner, fourth left) posing for a group photo with participants and facilitators of Nature n U camp.

BINTULU: Sarawak Forestry Corporation, in its long term programme to protect and conserve biodiversity, will seed 100,000 reef balls throughout the state’s waters to ensure prolonged existence of natural treasures.

Its managing director and chief executive officer Datu Len Talif Salleh said it was not impossible that wealth could be derived from oceans through discovery of new species and usage of the biodiversity.

“For instance the microbiological community under the sea could provide new opportunities for a range of industrial and pharmaceutical processes.

“The wealth of biodiversity could also provide considerable opportunities,” he said.

Len said about 1,000 reef balls were needed near Similajau National Park to protect its marine resources and turtles’ migratory routes and another 1,000 were needed at Kuala Lawas seabed to protect its seagrass beds, feeding ground for both sea turtles and dugongs.

Speaking at the closing ceremony of Nature ‘n U camp here at Similajau National Park yesterday, he said reef balls had been proven to be the most effective method or tool to protect turtles and other marine resources from fishing trawlers.

“Positive indications were revealed since it was first introduced near Pulau Talang-Talang Kecil, Pulau Talang-Talang Besar and Pulau Satang Besar in 1998 and this has propelled the method to be further implemented in the entire Sarawak coastline,” he added.

To date, Petronas is the only corporate body in Malaysia that has been involved in sponsoring the state’s reef ball projects. In 2000, Petronas sponsored 100 reef balls for protection of sea turtles’ inter-nesting habitat in Pulau Satang.

“Therefore we would like to propose to Petronas to consider continuing sponsoring the reef ball project, especially for the Similajau area as this might set the benchmark in corporate social responsibility for other corporate bodies.

“There are many beautiful submerged coral reefs which make good diving spots, about 30km to 40km offshore of Similajau National Park. With proper planning and strategy, Similajau National Park can be developed as the gateway for diving sites in Sarawak,” said Len.

He pointed out that Sarawak Forestry had embarked on many conservation projects including the dolphin project conducted at Similajau National Park and the surrounding areas.

The information gained from the dolphin survey, he said, could be used for promoting Similajau National Park as one of the most beautiful sandy beaches in the state besides the interesting boating experience and forest
walk.

He said the park is also home to crocodiles and a habitat for many bird species, making it a perfect location for crocodile and bird watching with the presence of raptors, hornbills, kingfishers, egrets, waterbirds and many more.

Pointing out Bintulu as part of SCORE, he believed the town would experience some major transformation in terms of huge development projects.

“This will definitely be translated into the betterment of the state’s economy and direct benefits for the people in Sarawak in general and specifically will spill over to improve the livelihood of the surrounding community of Bintulu.

“Samalaju Industrial Park, an industrial zone set up within the SCORE initiative in Bintulu will draw in heavy and energy-intensive industries,” he added.

He also talked about the importance of not creating pressure on the ecosystem in our pursuit for economic growth.

Petronas Sarawak general manager Datin Mary Sadiah Zainuddin on the other hand said the educational programme was in line with the company’s commitment towards supporting the conservation and protection of the environment and natural resources which are God’s gifts to mankind, saying caring for the environment was part of Petronas’ business culture.

The closing ceremony of the programme was officiated by Second Minister of Planning and Resource Management and Minister of Public Utilities Datuk Amar Awang Tengah Ali Hasan.