Wednesday, September 18

Ministry to develop, conserve Marudu Bay

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KOTA MARUDU: Marudu Bay, which is rich in biodiversity, mangrove swamps and marine resources, can contribute to enhanced economic activities for Kota Marudu through eco-tourism and fishery activities.

Marudu Bay covers Kudat, Pitas and Kota Marudu districts right up to Pulau Banggi. Its valuable resources have been recognised and Marudu Bay is part of the five-country continental shelf and the Coral Triangle Initiative on Coral Reefs, Fisheries and Food Security, as well as part of the proposed one million hectares Tun Mustapha marine park in northern Sabah.

Datuk Seri Dr Maximus Ongkili said his ministry is funding studies conducted with Universiti Putra Malaysia, Universiti Sains Malaysia and Universiti Malaysia Sabah to develop, conserve and manage Marudu Bay while identifying sustainable economic activities.

“The ministry is initiating these scientific studies to ensure that the rich resources are protected and also utilised for economic activities through sustainable development. But these efforts must involve the people who must be aware of the need to protect and conserve the environment and natural resources,” he said.

Dr Ongkili said this at an event of the Forestry Department to hand over funds to 26 secondary schools, primary schools and NGOs in Kota Marudu to conduct environmental conservation and awareness programmes.

Each of them received between RM1,000 and RM500 from the allocation given by the Natural Resources and Environment Ministry to members of parliament to encourage such activities in their constituencies.

Dr Ongkili stressed that physical and economic development is hollow if it does not go hand in hand with emphasis on conservation and protection of the environment.

The member of parliament for Kota Marudu said that appreciation of the environment must also be a priority and a part of life for all Malaysians in the nation’s quest to become a developed nation by 2020.

He said that there needed to be societal awareness on environmental issues so that everyone could work together to protect the environment and eco-system which also impacted people’s lives.

“Phenomenon like floods, which has become a yearly occurrence in Kota Marudu, could be a man-made problem due to illegal logging.

Destructive fishing methods such as using bombs can cause a decline in the marine resources.

“We need to be aware that our actions can disrupt the eco-system, leading to a chain reaction that affects ourselves,” he said.

Dr Ongkili added that one way to promote the awareness of environmental protection was through schools where the young are taught to appreciate the environment.

Towards this end, he proposed a committee to be set up involving the Forestry, Education and Environment Departments to draw up a syllabus for the schools using localised examples of environmental issues.

“Kota Marudu schoolchildren will be able to appreciate more the need to conserve and protect the environment when they learn about it through local examples such as the Marudu Bay which they can relate to. Environmental conservation must be a priority for Kota Marudu as we strive to become the economic hub and administrative centre of northern Sabah,” he added.