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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 all year round in Sabah’

SEMPORNA: THE year-long “End in Sipadan” campaign organised by the Tourism and Culture Ministry will not only promote Sabah’s diving trails, but also its local dive operators, said the ministry’s state director, Ag Ahmad Zaki Abu Bakar.

“The ‘End in Sipadan’ campaign, held in collaboration with Sabah Backpackers Association, began in April and has reached its pinnacle here in Sipadan.

“Throughout the journey, we saw our local dive operators doing a great job not just for the tourism industry, but also for the conservation of our reefs,” he said during a press conference in conjunction with the closing of the campaign here recently.

He said dive operators in Mari Mari Sepanggar island here and Bum Bum Island in Semporna engaged with avid divers to build artificial reefs within respective house reefs.

“Before the campaign, the heaps of rubbish in Sepanggar island could reach an average man’s shoulder. But, dive operators have cleared the garbage and transformed the island into a diving centre.”

Ag Ahmad said dive operator Blue Fin Dive and Surf from Kudat built a community-based homestay, while ND Divers from Bum Bum island provided jobs opportunities to the locals.

As for Kudat-based Pirate Divers, its founder, Glen Hapirullah, sketched several hundred underwater maps in Malaysia, including 44 diving sites in Lahad Datu.

Ag Ahmad said diver Abdul Razak Ismail, 33, from Semporna, took underwater videos to promote the campaign, adding that one of his videos gained 14,000 views in three months.

The campaign, he said, had also helped 15 media personnel obtain diving licences to better promote the state’s diving trails.

Present at the press conference were the ministry’s Pahang director, Datuk Idrus Yahya, and Sabah Backpackers Association president Richie Lee.

“The ‘End in Sipadan’ pro-gramme is the continuation of the ministry’s ‘Start in Tioman’ campaign in Pahang, which began in 2010 and offered diving course to media personnel,” said Idrus.

He said the programme in Tioman aimed to encourage people to take up diving.

“People will not only spend money on diving, but also on activities that we have created for them before they board a plane home.

“Besides that, the programme made people appreciate nature more because once the marine ecosystem is destroyed, divers will not be able to enjoy underwater activities anymore.”

Volunteer Datin Chan Goek Kooi, from Johor, said she fully supported the campaign in Bum Bum island and in Sipadan.

“As a dive operator, it is important for me to explore dive sites before promoting them to my clients.

 

Source: New Straits Times

Conference on Heart of Borneo a platform for biodiversity experts

KOTA KINABALU: The 9th International Conference on Heart of Borneo (HoB) to be held here will serve as sharing platform among biodiversity experts.

In a statement, Sabah Forestry Department said this year marked 10th year of HoB’s initiatives.

The initiative is a programme formed through a joint declaration between Brunei, Indonesia and Malaysia in 2007 to spur conservation efforts promoting a network of protected areas, sustainable management of forests and land uses.

“The conference will re-assess major activities that are critical to HoB and the responsibilities of stakeholders by key sectors.

“It is also to streamline and coordinate actions towards realising the HoB initiative.”

During the programme, there will be a keynote address from conservation leaders and a plenary session on “The Accomplishments of a Decade-Transboundary Management”.

The two-day programme, which begins tomorrow, will be launched by Chief Minister Tan Sri Musa Aman.

About 900 participants from various sectors locally and internationally, including students from higher learning institutions, had been invited for the programme.

Forty-two speakers are expected to give their speeches at the conference.

There will also be a signing of eight Memoranda of Understanding between the state government, represented by Sabah Forestry Department, and various parties.

Source : New Straits Times

Botanists shed light on Borneo’s Saurauia

KOTA KINABALU: Little is known about the Saurauia of Borneo but a team of botanists from Sabah and Singapore spent time to document the flowering plant.

Their hard work has been compiled into a book that would regale readers with images and facts of the 85 Saurauia species that can be found in Borneo.

One of the key researchers, Tan Jiew Hoe, said 62 of them were newly discovered.

“Before this, we had no idea that the Saurauia could be so rich in species.

“We now realise that our biodiversity can be very rich. They are hiding in the rainforest,” he said at the book launch here on Wednesday.

The Saurauia is a genus of small to medium-sized trees found in tropical and subtropical forests from South and South-East Asia to the southwest Pacific, and in some parts of tropical and subtropical America.

There are an estimated 300 species of Saurauia worldwide.

Tan, who is Singapore Gardening Society president and Gardens By the Bay board director, said much remains unknown about Borneo’s flora and fauna.

“Any disturbance to the rainforest could be destructive as we may not know what was present in the first place,” he said.

He said additional knowledge like those presented in the book could also help assess the effectiveness of conservation areas.

“Not supporting such studies could contribute to persisting knowledge gaps and potential losses,” he said.

The Saurauia of Borneo is published by the Natural History Publications (Borneo).

Its managing director Datuk C.L. Chan commended the team for its efforts.

Source: The Star

FOSTER maps out plans for sea turtles conservation

SANDAKAN: The Executive Committee of Friends of Sea Turtles Education & Research (FOSTER) gathered on Tuesday for their general meeting to map out plans for the 4th quarter of 2017 and the 1st quarter of 2018.

FOSTER is a part of a turtle conservation programme made available after the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Sabah Wildlife Department in July 2013 after its involvement in the setting up of a turtle hatchery on Libaran Island in 2012.

The programme includes creating awareness for the locals and visitors on the conservation value of sea turtles, undertaking research projects with the goal of better understanding the life cycle of sea turtles surrounding the Libaran Island area and to make available research programmes on sea turtles for international and local students.

From 2012 until July 2017, the hatchery had collected 26,672 Green turtle eggs and 10,598 Hawksbill turtle eggs.  Of these, 21,196 baby Green turtles and 7,474 baby Hawksbill turtles were successfully released into the ocean.

During the meeting, the committee made an evaluation of the programmes undertaken by FOSTER, such as community beach cleaning and dialogues with villagers at Libaran Island.

FOSTER is also working on a book on the turtle programme on Libaran which will be published by the first quarter of 2018. The book will record experiences on the island and will contain scientific data on sea turtle landings.

Seeing more work ahead, FOSTER will be contacting Sabah Wildlife Department to discuss on training more Honorary Wildlife Wardens to handle some of the anticipated work.

The tasks of these wardens will include patrolling the streets of Sandakan for illegal turtle eggs seller and turtle protection work on Libaran Island.

The discussion ended with the committee members having an afternoon tea at the newly opened Mango Garden Restaurant in Sepilok. Readers who are looking for further information could contact the president of FOSTER, Alexander Yee via email at forsterseaturtle@gmail.com.

Source: The Borneo Post