Perhaps, you’ve already heard about Malaysia’s one-million hectare marine park in Borneo. It’s called the Tun Mustapha that is also home to sharks and other marine species. This marine park is said to be the largest marine-protected area in the country wherein over 250 hard coral as well as more than 360 fishes exist in. And as the biggest MPA in Malaysia, it is focused on protecting the aquatic environment in order for the marine life to thrive. And on this site, we are glad to share to you the important details on how this marine park was established.
The aim in establishing Tun Mustapha is to preserve important habitats such as sea grass-beds, mangroves, and the productive fishing areas. It’s also the home to thousands of residents who rely on the aquatic resources including artisanal fishing areas as well as commercial fishery sectors. As a result, the marine park is essential in providing the entire bioregion of Coral Triangle with livelihood. In addition, the environmental protection is aimed to be balanced so that any growing coastal population within the community will also blossom.
Founding of the Tun Mustapha Marine Park
With over 13 years of strategic planning, consultation and negotiation, the Tun Mustapha Marine Park had undergone a comprehensive process just so the government can officially name it as a marine-protected park in Borneo, Malaysia. Through its complex developing action plan and sheer size, both commercial and local interests were satisfied in an economically sustainable manner. It also pioneered a mixed use approach in order to conserve marine life while the fishing industry and local communities continue to catch fish within the specific zones allowed by the regulatory committee.
Through a direct consultation with the Sabah Parks NGOs and department in Malaysia including the Worldwide Fund for Nature, the local communities are able to follow the rules governing the entire bioregion. The ones who spearheaded the project have also consistently monitored the marine park jus to ensure there’s no specie being harmed. And with the help of fishery objectives, people are able to catch roughly a ton of fishes every day. Fishing is regulated to make sure that the marine ecology is not abused by the locals. Overfishing, sodium cyanide use, and blast fishing are strongly prohibited and corresponding punishments are ready to discipline any violator.
Capturing high-value reef species such as Grouper for the Live Reef Fish for Food Trade are under the certain policies to guarantee marine conservation being the ultimate goal of the marine park. We are also disheartened by the news that green turtles in the area are already endangered as well as the dugongs. According to research, 57 percent of coral reefs are in perfect condition. Thanks to a group of marine scientists together with some volunteers who worked hard to ensure that Tun Mustapha is ready for the development.
Gathering Facts for the Establishment of Marine Preservation
However, some researchers found out that there are negative impacts caused by human activities like blast fishing and overfishing. During their trip, there were exactly 15 bombs heard that produced pollution in the sea. Hence, iconic species including the turtles and sharks became conspicuously absent until now. And when megafauna like these species are missing, it will only indicate that the marine life and ecosystem is under difficulty. The data gathered by the researchers also calls for an urgent need to sustainably preserve the existing biodiversity so that damaged coral reefs and depleted fish stocks will be recovered.
Regions with minimum damage are recovered within 3 to 5 years based on the statement made by WWF Malaysia. But those areas with significant damages needed longer recovery time of up to 10 years. Hence, the founding of the new marine park is targeted to increase biodiversity and conservation of the rich marine and natural environment. Moreover, the gazettement of the marine park concentrates in serving as an excellent representation and inspiration for aquatic protection within the renowned Coral Triangle and in other parts of the globe.
The mostly untapped and great potential for nature-based tourism development also urged Malaysia to pursue this project due to the excellent benefits it will provide the environment. However, our challenge today is how to consistently conserve the marine park in front of human threats such as overfishing and blast fishing.