The 12,200ha coral reef complex to get 1,750 artificial ‘ultra’ reef balls over 5 years
MIRI: The RM8 million Petronas Eco-Marine Conservation Project aims to place 1,750 artificial ‘ultra’ reef balls in stages at the 12,200ha Miri-Sibuti Coral Reef Complex over the next five years.
Yesterday, Sarawak Forestry Corporation (SFC) and Petronas placed the first 170 of these artificial modules from this initiative in the area.
“This is a five-year project, which kicked off last year. It is being carried out with financial support from Petronas to the state government through SFC, which provides the technical aspect,” Deputy State Secretary Datu Jaul Samion told reporters.
“It is a good effort in terms of conservation of marine biodiversity: in the long run, it would help increase the fishermen’s harvest.”
Jaul, who is also Petronas-Sarawak Joint Working Committee corporate social responsibility committee chairman, said the project would also help to attract tourists and boost Miri’s eco-tourism products, such as diving and sports fishing.
“This conservation project is vital for us to attract more tourists to enjoy the beauty of all the natural resources that we have, including our diverse marine life.”
SFC marine biologist James Bali said the reef balls would be effective in regenerating coral within the marine national park.
He said the project formed part of ongoing efforts to protect and provide alternative fishing grounds to over 1,500 local fishermen in Miri and Sibuti and also to keep illegal trawlers at bay.
“More importantly, the balls would act as a deterrent to fishermen who use trawlers in the area because their nets would get caught on the balls’ rough surface and tear. This would teach them a lesson, and they would not come back to fish in the area again.”