News & Updates

Plenty on offer at Borneo Eco Film Fest

Kota Kinabalu: Visitors will be able to enjoy a three-day festival featuring art, exhibitions, workshops and free talks at the 2017 Borneo Eco Film Festival (BEFF).

The film festival promises a fun, informative and interactive weekend for all at Suria Sabah’s fifth and sixth floor from Sept 22-24.

Programme Director Melissa Leong said this year’s programme includes the first ever BEFF Eco Art Carnival, wax-straw making workshop, green storytelling for children and panel sessions.

“The Eco Art Carnival features the collaborative work of artists who will be showcasing eco-themed art installations which is a great opportunity to check out and purchase the art and craftwork of local craftmakers and artisans,” she said.

Three main art groups will be participating, namely Persatuan Seni Visual Sabah (PSVS), Decorative Art and Craft Club and the collective from University College Sabah Foundation (UCSF).

One of the artistic highlights in BEFF this year is an Orang Utan Art Installation, called “Love Me, Love My Home” featuring painted portraits of Sabah’s iconic primate.

These portraits, which are also for sale will be hung on tree branches along the corridor leading to the venue, symbolically replicating the degraded habitat of the Orang Utan and visitors are invited to write and hang their eco-friendly pledge on these branches.

PSVS spokesperson and local artist Christianne Goonting, explained that this installation will serve as a reminder that humans must learn to sustainably co-exist with our natural surroundings.

“We must acknowledge the fact that our world supports a huge variety of life and we need to respect this.

We need to share and live together and not rob the animal kingdom of their natural habitat,” she said.

Meanwhile, children aged seven and above are invited to join a free wax straw-making workshop on Sunday, Sept 24.

Conducted by Carolyn Lau, founder of the citizen-led initiative ‘Tak Nak Straw!’ the workshop aims to encourage people to explore alternatives to plastic straws.

“It seems like such a small thing but single-use plastic straws are really bad for the environment.

It takes hundreds of years to break down. They fill up landfills and end up in waterways and the ocean, which then endangers our marine life,” explained Melissa.

“This year, we are screening a film called ‘Straws’ which shows why we need to rethink the habit of using plastic straws.

‘Straws’ will be screened followed by the wax straw-making workshop on Sunday, 12.30pm, Sept 24.

Additionally, there will be free talks and panel sessions where members of the public can interact with experts and engage in discussion on the various environmental and social issues featured in this year’s film line-up.

This year, there will be a special talk on Mount Kinabalu by The Sabah Society, a panel on access to education for underprivileged children and a light-hearted session on the pursuit of happiness and living a positive life by Dr. Sivakumar Kumaresan.

The three-day festival is an annual non-profit event celebrating Borneo’s biocultural diversity through showcasing environmental films and nurturing local community filmmaking.

Source: Daily Express

Le Meridien and Four Points host annual “Take Care” run

KOTA KINABALU: Le Méridien Kota Kinabalu and Four Points by Sheraton Sandakan will be hosting the annual 5km fun charity run under the “TakeCare” movement by Marriott International.

The movement was launched to provide resources and opportunities for associates to stay physically and spiritually healthy where the ultimate goal is to improve the well-being and happiness of the associates.

“The fun charity run further underscores the commitment of Marriott International to ensure the presence of our hotels in terms of footprint and strength of the associates will continue to drive positive sustainable social and economic impact for the communities which we operate,” it said in a statement yesterday.

Run to Give 2017 will be held simultaneously on Sept 24 across destinations in Asia Pacific, and for Sabah it will be held at Taman Ujana Rimba, Kota Kinabalu from 7am-10am.

Registration is at RM50 per person and children under 5 years of age can participate for free. Only the first 250 registrations will receive one Ultron t-shirt, participating medal and certificate).

Marriott International will channel the proceeds from this event to the National Kidney Foundation Malaysia.

Le Méridien Kota Kinabalu and Four Points by Sheraton Sandakan have appointed PEMADAM Bandaraya Kota Kinabalu as its local beneficiary. PEMADAM is a non-governmental organization which organizes anti-drug awareness programs and activities in the city.

Those who are interested to be a part of this global activity can contact Le Méridien Kota Kinabalu – Shirley Shim at +6013 866 6699 or Clara Lim at +6012 801 9935, and Four Points by Sheraton Sandakan – Haeruddin Nurdin at +6017 373 4028 or Mohd Azwan at +6016 552 3495.

Source: New Sabah Times

Amendments proposed to turn Sabah marine parks into shark sanctuaries

KOTA KINABALU: The Sabah Tourism, Culture and Environment Ministry’s legal department is in the midst of preparing amendments to the Sabah Parks Enactment 1984 in a move to turn all six marine parks in the state into shark sanctuaries.

Its minister, Datuk Seri Masidi Manjun, said amendments to the enactment would be tabled at the state assembly once the review was finalised.

The marine parks are Tunku Abdul Rahman Park, Tun Sakaran Marine Park, Tun Mustapha Park, Pulau Tiga Park, Turtle Islands Park and Sipadan Island Park.

“There are certain requirements to amend certain provisions of the law, which we hope to table in this coming assembly session. We have had some positive achievements in trying to get our sharks fully protected.

“Even the federal authorities are now more engaging in (Sabah’s) request for amendments to the Fisheries Act 1985 that would allow total banning of shark fishing for certain category of species.

“Sabah has a lot of sharks and we are trying to protect all species. This, of course, requires a bit of adjustment to the Fisheries Act so we can harmonise the law relating to the protection of sharks in both federal and state laws,” he said.

Masidi was speaking at a press conference on the Alternative To Shark Fin Soup Exhibition, which will be held on Nov 11 at Imago Mall, here.

Present were Sabah Shark Protection Association (SSPA) president Aderick Chong, Imago acting marketing manager Rustam Ahmad, Go Seafood Sdn Bhd chief executive officer and executive director, Mikhail Razak Harris and Chua Hua Beng.

Masidi said he had held informal discussions with leaders from Kuala Lumpur and noted that they had begun to understand the situation Sabah was facing and pursuing with regards to shark conservation.

“I am also happy to note that the public are now quick to respond when they see photos of slaughtered sharks in the market. This shows Sabahans are now aware of the need to protect marine species.

“Sometimes, this issue crops up and I get a message on Facebook, saying ‘Masidi, where are you?’. Well, I’m still in KK and I’m still the minister but (jokes aside) there is no law that gives authority to the minister to take action against this.

“There is no law to allow us to stop shark fishing. So, I hope the people understand this and if indeed there is a law (banning shark fishing), I will be in the forefront to ensure it does not happen,” he said.

Currently, the Sabah Fisheries Department has listed whale sharks and sawfish (ray species) as protected and threatened under the Fisheries (Control of Endangered Species of Fish) Regulations 1999 and Fisheries Act 1985.

The department has proposed another four shark and two ray species, which have been listed under the Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species 2008, to be categorised as threatened under the Fisheries Act.

The sharks are Sphyrna mokarran (great hammerhead shark), Sphyrna zygaena (smooth hammerhead shark), Eusphyra blochii (winghead shark) and the Carcharhinus longimanus (oceanic whitetip shark). The rays are Manta birostris (oceanic manta) and Manta alfredi (reef manta).

As the diving industry is one of Sabah’s active segments in spurring the state’s economy, Masidi said shark conservation must be emphasised to prevent species extinction such as what has befallen the Sumatran rhinoceros.

“I’m personally happy that SSPA is continuously educating the public. Ensuring total protection (of sharks) lies in our attitude. The laws can only be effective if there is strict enforcement, but our attitude determines whether our sharks survive.”

Meanwhile, Chong said the upcoming Alternative To Shark Fin Soup Exhibition focused on creating awareness and introducing substitutes for the dish to the public.

He said a similar event was organised in 2012 when many restaurants and hotels were still serving shark fin soup.

“However, this time around some (restaurants and hotels) have givenup, or rather struck off their menus, and this year we are stepping up our event with the support of Go Seafood, which produces Royal Empura products.

“The Empura fish is a sustainable resource, prestigious and expensive compared to shark fins. So we have a good alternative this year, together with birds nest.

“We have put up a really good fight against shark fin soup and now we have a ‘contender’. Hopefully, there will be more restaurants participating in the exhibition,” he said.

Source: New Straits Times

‘Tagal’ rivers have tourism potential

RANAU: The tagal system of river and fish conservation practiced in many villages in Sabah can be a tourism product with wide appeals.

One fine example is the tagal on the Melout River, about 28km from here, which is jointly managed by the villages of Bayag, Gaur and Giring-Giring.

The villages and the river had an important visitor recently in the person of Ranau Member of Parliament Datuk Dr Ewon Ebin who commended the villagers for their efforts in conservation, and encouraged them to develop it into a tourism product to share it with outsiders.

(Tagal is operated according to native customs. A village or a cluster of villages may be involved in making a decision on how much of the river should be placed under tagal, how to enforce, how and when the tagal should be opened and who should benefit from the fish harvest.)

Ewon said Melout is located sufficiently far from urban development and maintains a tranquil and unspoilt environment. Combined with the slow flowing river, rich flora and fauna, the river and the surrounding villages are potential tourism attractions,.

“This is not yet on the tourism calendar … but the signs are that more and more are attracted to the beauty of nature as well as the unique tagal system where the people are themselves protecting the river and fish sources,” Ewon said during the opening of a rest chalet by the river recently.

The tagal practice is quite wide spread in Sabah and some, for example in Penampang, have recently used it to attract tourists.

“I believe that in three years’ time this area will become a tourist attraction as the access roads are improved,” said Ewon.

He added that the natural beauty of the villages, the scenic river and the tagal will give rise to homestays and other tourism products.

He urged villagers to consider introducing activities as cast net fishing to attract visitors. Jius Kumin the chairman of the tagal system, said the villagers have been imposing the tagal restrictions for the last three years.

“It’s been good to us … not only have we been able to conserve resources like fish in the river, the surroundings also benefit directly because there is much less intrusion, and the villagers took ownership of what nature provides, and they look after them.”

Jius also said that because of the collective responsibility of upkeeping the tagal, the villagers of the three kampong have grown closer, and they share the same love for the forests surrounding the villages as well.

“We are proud of our tagal, and we want to maintain it so that it becomes as good as the one in Kampung Luanti (which has an international reputation) and out people can not only enjoy the tourism benefits, but also the fish we can harvest whenever the tagal is lifted.” He proposed that the lifting be August next year.

Meanwhile, Ewon approved an application for six rolls of polyurethane pipes for the construction of a gravity water supply system in the area. The running water thus obtained will enable the construction of public toilets.

Ewon pointed to the rapid growth in tourist arrivals from China and Korea in Sabah and that these are potential visitors to villages with the tagal system.

Source: New Sabah Times

RM60 million needed to operate Malaysia’s largest marine park for first five years

KOTA KINABALU: A total of RM60 million is needed to operate the Tun Mustapha Park (TMP), Malaysia’s largest marine park, for its first five years (2017-2021).

WWF-Malaysia, announcing this during a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signing with Sabah Parks today, will assist the latter in developing a financial plan which could cover income generation or fundraising strategies, as well as sustainable financing.

The 10-year agreement solidifies the existing cooperation between the non-governmental organisation (NGO) and the conservation-based government body in taking care of the 898,762-hectare TMP.

The TMP, gazetted last year, spans three districts (Kudat, Kota Marudu and Pitas).

WWF-Malaysia chief executive officer Datuk Dr Dionysius S.K. Sharma and Sabah Parks director Dr Jamili Nais signed the MoU, witnessed by State Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Seri Masidi Manjun.

Dionysius said WWF-Malaysia is committed to co-funding the TMP management and operation office, the TMP regulations development, sustainable financing mechanism and conservation, led by the state government.

“TMP is a global symbol of how we can collectively commit to protecting the environment while local communities continue to live in a sustainable manner.

“People must understand that the gazetting measure is just the first step in a long journey.

“Right now, there are over 80,000 coastal and island folk living in the area. We don’t know how many there will be in the future but the goal is for them to have better life in a sustainable manner,” he said.

WWF-Malaysia Marine Programme’s People and Biodiversity manager Monique Sumampouw said that 85 per cent of locals surveyed indicated that the gazetting measure had a positive impact.

She said the MoU will focus on the protection and restoration of coral reefs, sea grass and mangroves as well as key species like sea turtles, dugong, sharks and commercially-valuable fish.

Meanwhile, Masidi said the gazetting of such parks require political will. Its impact, she said, may not be seen in the short term but will benefit the people in the future.

“I would like to give an example where a few days ago, a massive cleanup was conducted at the Kudat coastline, where many plastic bottles were collected. Surprisingly, some of the bottles came from other parts of the world, even as far as Saudi Arabia.

“So do not think that what we do in TMP only benefits only Kudat and Sabah; it affects people all over the world.

“We should not opt for shortcuts and short-term benefits but make decisions that allow people to prosper, generation after generation.

“I hope that leaders, wherever they are, will do more of what is right instead of what is popular. I hope what we did will encourage others to follow suit,” said the minister.

He also stressed on the importance of being realistic when it comes to gazetting more marine parks.

“I believe the shortest time frame for the next one (to be gazetted) is maybe ten years. I am saying this to keep expectations within limits. There is a lot of work to be done and there are various technicalities involved,” he said.

Masidi had earlier this month said that the government had identified Mantanani Island off Kota Belud and its surrounding areas as the next potential marine park.

Source : New Straits Times