Wednesday, April 10, 2013

The Crown of Thorns (C.O.T) and Reef Clean up Perhentian Island 2013

The richness of marine biodiversity and the beauty of the Marine Park Islands have succeeded in attracting many visitors from within and outside the country. It is one of the major contributors to the development of the tourism sector in our country. Hence, understanding this perspective and under the Economic Transformation programme (ETP), tourism is one of the 12 National Key Economic Areas (NKEA) that contribute directly to the growth of the Malaysian economy.

Dato’Sri Zoal Azha Officiating Perhentian Island local community programme
Dato’Sri Zoal Azha bin Yusof, Secretary General of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment made the remark during his speech at the opening ceremony of the Crown of Thorns (C.O.T) and Reef Clean up at Perhentian Island 2013 and Program Kembara Bersama Media NRE 2013. It was held on 5 April 2013(Friday). Sixteen participants from RTM1, Utusan Malaysia, Berita Harian, New Straits Times and PROs from NRE and agencies under the ministry took part in the event.

     The richness of marine biodiversity attracting many visitors

He urged the public to work hand in hand with the ministry to conserving marine biological diversity and make our land healthier, besides making our communities more prosperous and safe for us and future generations.

         The Crown of Thorns
Through NRE, the government is putting in the effort needed to conserve natural resources and environment. The ministry has undertaken various efforts including Biodiversity Policy, laws and regulations and guidance, management plans, etc. to ensure that the wealth of natural resources are well protected and environment are well preserved. At the same time, institutional capacities and technical capacity for biodiversity were strengthened. Thus, the Marine Park section has been upgraded to a department and the Department of Marine Park Malaysia, officially established in July 2007, he said.

  A Crown-of-thorns starfish 'outbreak' can damage the reef
He said the Department of Marine Park Malaysia has been responsible for managing, protecting and conserving marine protected areas and maintain the sustainability of marine biodiversity.
“In order to manage the country's resources well, the marine area of 1.2 nautical miles waters is gazetted as Marine Park and protected areas. This is important as it’s the main source of protein provided area to the local people. Marine Park areas are suitable coral reef ecosystems for many commercial fish species to take refuge, breed, feed and grow. It should be preserved and protected as a sanctuary of marine biodiversity. Records show that there were 1394 species of fish and 405 species of coral reef in coral reef areas in Malaysia. Biological diversity of coral reef ecosystems is a natural treasure of the sea and it is priceless,” he said.

Pro Diver’s  world
Zoal Azha said that recently, Pulau Redang, Pulau Perhentian, Pulau Sibu and Pulau Gemia were recognized as the most charming Asian island destination by New Voyage Magazine at its annual awards ceremony held at Beijing on 15 January 2013.The award coincides with the government's desire to promote Malaysia in conjunction with Visit Malaysia Year 2014.

                       handlining catch larger oceanic fish

“Coral reef ecosystems are exposed to various threats such as human activities and natural phenomena. Waste disposal into the sea and starfish attack or Thorny Crown of Thorns crown (COT) is the major contributor to this threat. C.O.T normally lives in a hidden coral reef such as bay and the water is not too shallow.They destroy the coral to feed on the soft polyps hidden inside.”

                      handline fishing-  high-quality size fish

“Under normal circumstances, C.O.T acts as a biological control agent to ensure the diversity of coral species can live in an orderly manner. However, excessive C.O.T population caused by the extinction of predators will cause severe damage to the reef where the C.O.T would be predators to coral. This situation is commonly known as a crown-of-thorns starfish 'outbreak' and their recovery often takes 12-15 years.”

        good quality fresh fish

“There are two commonly used techniques for controlling the population of the C.O.T., namely by injecting Copper Sulphate solution and physical removal with COTs buried ashore. In the past 20 years from 1992 to 2012 about 10 thousand C.O.T were collected during the program organized by the Marine Park.”   

    Beautiful Beach
Zoal Azha also said that the implementation of C.O.T and Reef Clean-up programme will be able to reduce the rubbish around Pulau Perhentian which can affect the ecosystem and biodiversity as well as foster the spirit of love for the environment among the participants. The programme has involved around 100 participants including volunteers from government agencies, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), tourism operators and scuba diving as well as the rest of the island villages.

“I greatly appreciate the involvement of all parties in the efforts to conserve these marine parks. I’m also looking forward to this noble efforts will somehow help preserve marine biodiversity that is priceless and should be preserved and properly managed in order to provide the benefit to future generations. The high quality clean unpolluted Ocean Park is of increasing importance to consumers.”

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