Marine Scientists to Survey the Proposed Tun Mustapha Park
The Tun Mustapha Park Expedition (TMPE) will assess aspects of marine biodiversity and ecology, as well as the socioeconomic benefits of the marine ecosystems to local communities in the proposed park. The expedition is organised by Universiti Malaysia Sabah (UMS), Naturalis Biodiversity Center, Sabah Parks and WWF-Malaysia. As signatory to the Coral Triangle Initiative (CTI), Malaysia developed a National Plan of Action for protecting the Coral Triangle region. This expedition is one of Malaysia’s activities under the CTI-National Plan of Action.
Jointly leading the expedition are Mr. Muhammad Ali Syed Hussein, Leader of the UMS team; Dr. Bert Hoeksema of Naturalis Biodiveristy Center, Leader of the Coral Reef Biodiversity Team; and Ms. Bobita Ahad of WWF-Malaysia, Leader of the Coral Reef Status Team. Other expedition participants include marine scientists from UMS, Universiti Malaya, University of Queensland, Naturalis and researchers from Sabah Parks.
The overall objectives of the expedition are to:
1) Assess the coral reef biodiversity including reef fish and associated reef fauna richness,
2) Assess the coral reef status and reef population health,
3) Verify coral reef categories for the zoning of Tun Mustapha Park,
4) Assess the biodiversity of mangrove ecosystem,
5) Conduct physico-chemical oceanographic studies,
6) Study the distribution, diversity and abundance of phytoplankton and zooplankton,
7) Survey socio-economic aspects of the local communities, and
8) Raise awareness of Tun Mustapha Park and benefits of protecting and managing marine ecosystem.
The proposed Tun Mustapha Park (TMP) is an area of 1.02 million hectares with more than 50 islands and islets located across Kudat, Pitas and Kota Marudu districts in the Kudat-Banggi Priority Conservation Area (PCA). TMP has unique biodiversity that support a series of complex and linked habitats and is home to endangered marine animals, such as green sea turtles and dugongs.
The proposed TMP produces Sabah’s third largest volume of fishery products from coral reefs, bays and open waters. It is a source of livelihood to 80,000 coastal inhabitants of diverse ethnic groups. This unique demography forms the rich cultural heritage of the Park. As a scenic and historical area in Sabah, TMP has great potential for sustainable ecotourism.
The TMPE will be launched by YB Datuk Dr Maximum Ongkili of the Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation (MOSTI) in Kudat on 6 September, and the preliminary results of the expedition will be announced at a press conference at the UMS campus in Kota Kinabalu on 27 September 2012.
The TMPE is jointly funded by Malaysian-CTI (MOSTI through the National Oceanography Directorate), USAID’s Coral Triangle Support Partnership and WWF-Malaysia’s individual supporters.
Follow the expedition blog and other social media such as Twitter, Weblog, Flickr, and Facebook, where the expedition members will update their daily work and share new findings, as well as their stunning images and short videos. Visit: www.naturalis.nl.
Notes to Editor:
WWF-Malaysia’s Sulu-Sulawesi Marine Ecoregion Programme in Kudat-Banggi Priority Conservation Area (PCA) is currently implementing a project to facilitate collaborative management of fisheries and marine resources among stakeholders, which include government agencies, district offices, private sectors and local communities. Together with Sabah Parks, Department of Fisheries Sabah, Persatuan Pemilik Kapal Nelayan Kudat (Fishing Boat-owners Association), teachers, Kudat-Banggi, Marudu and Pitas District Offices, and Maliangin Island Community Association, WWF Kudat-Banggi PCA Team works on building support for the proposed multiple-use Tun Mustapha Park measuring over 1 million hectares.
The Kudat-Banggi PCA is one of three Globally Significant PCAs in Malaysia within the Sulu-Sulawesi Marine Ecoregion (SSME). It is has Malaysia’s second largest concentration of coral reefs linked to complex habitats including primary rainforest, mangroves, and seagrass beds; and is home to 252 species of hard corals, 350 species of fish endangered green sea turtles and dugongs. The SSME is located at the apex of the Coral Triangle.
The Coral Triangle—the nursery of the seas—is the most diverse marine region on the planet, matched in its importance to life on Earth only by the Amazon rainforest and the Congo basin. Defined by marine areas containing more than 500 species of reef-building coral, it covers around 6 million square kilometres of ocean across six countries in the Indo-Pacific – Indonesia, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, Solomon Islands, and Timor-Leste. For information go to: www.panda.org/coraltriangle
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