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Ocean heroes spreading marine awareness

KOTA KINABALU: Marine conservation is important and people are encouraged to become ‘ocean heroes’. The Downbelow X Rip Curl Marine Conservation Programme 2017 held here yesterday was to reiterate and bring across the message.

It was held at a dive centre at Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park near here.

This joint event between Downbelow Marine & Wildlife Adventure and Rip Curl Malaysia was aimed at raising awareness towards the global problem of marine debris.

Duty Manager Mohd Fauzi Mohd Sofian said that programme is a step towards educating the people about many issues related to the ocean.

“We aimed to raise awareness, educate and encourage action towards the global problem of marine debris and the importance of preserving our coral reefs.

“Downbelow and Rip Curl Malaysia hope to motivate people to become ocean heroes in protecting our ocean,” he said to New Sabah Times yesterday.

About 100 local and international participants took part and acquired some tips on why everyone must fight the good fight to save the ocean environment.

Some of them were marine science students from Universiti Malaysia Sabah (UMS), staffers from Hyatt Regency Kinabalu and Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Kota Kinabalu (SPCA).

Beach cleaning and coral planting were also held as part of the day’s activities. About 400 corals were planted onto 200 cement blocks.

Meanwhile, Managing Director and PADI Platinum Course Director, Richard Swan, conducted the coral reef conservation awareness presentation. They learnt about coral, their importance to the environment, the threats it face and what public should or should not do as a diver, snorkeler or non-swimmer.

Speaking to the public about the importance of preserving coral reefs, Richard highlighted that coral is the life of the ocean and people should realise that coral help in maintaining our marine ecosystem and beach.

“We hope that people will know about the importance of care and preserve our precious coral reefs. “We play our roles as a part of living things by sharing our harmonious with marine.”

Participant Chrizz Diver, 31, shared his experiences in marine conservation programme saying that many people are unaware the negative impact of dumping rubbish into the sea.

“As humans living together with other inhabitants on this earth, we can contribute by recycling plastic or reducing the usage of plastics in our daily life while maintaining the cleanliness or our beaches and oceans.

“One time, I saw a turtle was badly injured from eating plastic, and it shows how badly the effect of throwing rubbish into the sea can do to the marine life… it kills them.”

The one-day programme was also joined and supported by local celebrities like Daphne Iking, MMA Fighter AJ “Pyro” Mansor and MMA Fighter Ann “Athena” Osman.

Downbelow Marine and Wildlife Adventures were doing their part to lead the public towards conservation. They have been education providers locally and internationally for the past 15 years.

The companies pledged commitment to responsible tourism and provide courses that foster appreciation, awareness and conservation of our environment of local people.

 

Source: New Sabah Times

Diving campaign takes four years to plan

SEMPORNA: As the ‘End in Sipadan’ dive trail campaign finally came to an end, the question on everyone’s mind was “How did it all come about?”

What makes ‘End in Sipadan’ campaign so unique is that it will attract tourists to come to Sabah not only to dive in Sipadan but also to explore the many dive sites in the state.

According to Sabah Backpackers Association president Richie Lee, the ‘End in Sipadan’ idea materialized after four years of brainstorming and planning.

“The idea first came about when I was elected as president of the Sabah Backpackers Association (SBA).

“We wanted to create something different and to promote and put Sabah on the world map as one of the great dive sites our state can offer.

“Octavius (Mari Mari Sepanggar Island Lodge owner Dares Saham Asaad) came out with an idea of creating dive trails to connect several dive sites in Sabah.

“After many hours of hard work, brainstorming, planning and collaborating with Sabah’s Tourism and Culture Ministry (Motac), we finally launched ‘End in Sipadan’ in April at Mari Mari Sepanggar and ending its dive trail in Sipadan Island in Semporna.

“So I dare say that the ‘End in Sipadan’ is actually the brainchild, or how I like to put it, the “Octavius Blue Print” because without his knowledge and years in this industry, ‘End in Sipadan’ would never materialize,” said Lee during a three-day stay at ND Diver Lodge in Semporna.

The ‘End in Sipadan’ campaign started its dive trail in Sepanggar and making its way up to Mantanani Island, then to Kudat and back down along the east coast to Lahad Datu and finally ending in Sipadan.

Lee added that to ensure the backpackers market continued to grow, SBA had to connect all its members to make the campaign a success.

“In tourism, the longer our tourists stay the more they will spend and the more they will stay and spend, the more they will learn about our country.

“So to provide our backpackers, who may also be divers, an experience of a lifetime, we created this dive trail which connects one city or location to another city or location around Sabah,” he said.

Lee, however, said that most tourists would only learn about Sabah because of Sipadan Island, considered to be the best dive site in Malaysia and top 10 dive sites in the world.

“Yes, everyone knows that Sipadan is one of the best dive sites in Malaysia and they will usually come to Semporna via Tawau, and end up diving only in Sipadan, but there are more dive sites our country has to offer.

“As I said many times, Sabah is blessed with three seas surrounding us, we have the South China Sea, the Sulu Sea and Celebes Sea, and we have so many beautiful dive sites that are still unexplored.

“So by connecting SBA members all over Sabah and providing a dive trail, tourists will stay longer and will have a memorable experience, which we hope they will bring their experience and share it with their friends and family and maybe even blog and write a good review about Sabah,” he said.

So how did SBA come out with a suitable location for their dive trail?

Lee said that each location or each city must have something interesting to offer beside diving activities.

“We do not want our tourists to just come here, have a couple of dives and go back home.

“We want them to experience our culture, our people and our city. There are many activities they can join in and participate and we hope, will bring memorable experience to them.

“When we first launched our programme in April in Sepanggar, we started with the artificial reef which carries the ‘conservative’ theme of coral planting.

“Octavius once again came out with this idea of artificial reef planting at his resort in Mari Mari Sepanggar as part of their theme and it was adapted by ND Divers in Semporna which has since made it part of their product to offer to their customers,” said Lee.

For Mari Mari Backpackers Lodge Mantanani Island in Kota Belud, their theme offers marine conservation, while Kudat Blue Fin Diver, founded by Camuel Tsen, took a different direction by engaging local home stays on a joint venture while offering local kids a chance to be dive masters.

Pirate Divers founder, Glen Hapirullah, in Lahad Datu meanwhile offers 44 breathtaking dive sites with beautiful reefs and shipwreck.

 

Source: The Borneo Post

Marine Protected Areas to be gazetted – Pang

KOTA KINABALU: Efforts are now underway to submit for the State Cabinet consideration additional areas throughout Sabah that are to be gazetted as Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) and this will definitely go beyond the 10 percent threshold recommended by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

Assistant Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Pang Yuk Ming said Sabah currently has about 1.02 million hectares of MPAs.

As had been announced by the Minister of Tourism, Culture and Environment, Datuk Seri Panglima Masidi Manjun, during the Pacom Conference recently, Pang said the waters around Mantanani would soon be submitted to the State Cabinet to be gazetted as a MPA.

“This move is the first among many more to come in efforts to meet IUCN recommendation for all nations to have at least 10 percent territorial waters to be conserved through MPAs,” he said in a statement yesterday.

Pang, who chairs the Sabah Anti Fish Bombing Committee, lauded the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) on its seizure of close to 50 pieces of explosives used for fish bombing during a raid on five pump boats at Mantanani Kecil in Kota Belud recently.

“I would like to dearly congratulate the MMEA Sabah and Labuan branch under the capable leadership of First Admiral Mohd Zubil Mat Som and Kota Kinabalu MMEA director, First Admiral Adam Aziz, on the seizure.

“This latest apprehension will surely go a long way to safeguard the waters around Mantanani, which is currently a hotspot for tourism activities,” he said.

Pang said MMEA’s recent string of success against criminals operating in our territorial waters, especially the detention of foreign vessels caught fishing in our waters, has greatly helped the State in its efforts to protect our precious marine environment and its precious resources.

“We applaud the commitment of MMEA and know that they will continue do the best in discharging their duties.

“With the recent budget announcement by the Prime Minister cum Minister of Finance, Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak, allocating quite a handsome amount for our security forces, I hope additional assets will be deployed to MMEA so that they can achieve the same success in the north and east coast region of Sabah, especially on turtle poaching, as they have done here in the west coast,” he added.

 

Source: Borneo Post

Sabah government focuses on safety of tourists

KOTA KINABALU: The Sabah government will focus more on the tourism sector, especially the safety of tourists.

Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Seri Raymond Tan Shu Kiah said the booming tourism sector required operators, hoteliers and other industry players to put in place safety protocols to better protect tourists.

“We take visitors to the mountains and islands, (because) those are our attractions, but they should not be compromised in terms of safety protocols.

“Tourism is not only about where we take tourists to, but it also involves food and lodging,” he said, adding that transportation was a huge safety concern in the industry.

Tan, who is also the state industrial development minister, said this after the launch of the two-day Fifth Borneo Occupational Safety and Health Conference and Exhibition (BOSH 2017) here today.

He said all tour operators must put in place safety measures apart from making sure their businesses were doing well.

“We will work with the small- and medium-sized enterprises in the tourism sector, with the collaboration of the National Occupational Safety and Health, to conduct training and provide certification in safety protocols to enhance the quality of services.”

Present were NIOSH chairman Tan Sri Lee Lam Thye, executive director Ayop Salleh and state manager Mohd Hussin Abd Salam.

Hussin said NIOSH was working closely with the Tourism and Culture Ministry and the state Tourism, Culture and Environment Department to tackle safety measures issues.

“Some tourists are not particular about their safety, that is why NIOSH wants to engage industry players to cope with the influx of tourists into the state. Safety is important, especially in water activities such as diving and snorkelling, and transport such as water taxis.

“More workshops will be held next year to assist hoteliers, operators and taxi operators to come up with procedures to suit their nature of business.”

 

Source: New Straits Times

Promoting Sabah to backpackers

SEMPORNA: Members of Sabah Backpackers Association (SBA) are working together to offer diversified tourism products to attract travellers to stay longer in the state.

Its president Richie Lee said backpackers would get the opportunity to know Sabah more as they tend to stay longer.

“Backpackers rely heavily on word-of-mouth, social media and the Internet to choose and decide on their travelling destinations.

“After their visit to Sabah, we want them to go back to their countries and write good reviews that will attract more people to the state,” he said at an “End in Sipadan” programme, here, recently.

The programme is organised by the Tourism and Culture Ministry. SBA is a strategic partner that helps the ministry promote dive trails in Sabah.

Lee added that each operator should offer different products to allow divers to explore more.

“People usually fly to Semporna (in Tawau) and end up diving only in Sipadan, but Sabah is blessed with three seas (South China Sea, Sulu Sea and Celebes Sea) and there are definitely more diving trails to experience in the state.

“The ‘End in Sipadan’ is a voluntourism programme designed to encourage tour operators to offer packages for divers to build artificial reef conservation,” he said.

He added that divers engaged in the work could return to check the progress of the reef.

Besides that, the association had also been engaging education institutions to be a part of their programmes.

“College students are involved in internship programmes with our members. Through this, the younger generation gets hands-on experience and learning opportunity.

“After their graduation, the association hopes to help produce quality frontliners in the tourism industry.”

 

Source: New Straits Times