Children Learn About Marine Resources at Regatta Lepa
This was made possible by WWF-Malaysia, who conducted a series of interactive awareness activities under the theme ‘Kami Menghargai dan Melestarikan Alam Marin Semporna’.
Together with volunteers from Green Semporna, the national conservation organization engaged the children in fun activities such as “Ninja Sea Turtles” that showcased the lifecycle of sea turtles, a matching game to identify terrestrial and marine creatures according to their environment, and colouring contests and quizzes. Some 100 children and their families participated daily in the Regatta.
Besides games that appealed to all age groups, the Women Association of Pulau Omadal (WAPO) hosted an exhibition on examples of alternative livelihood for communities who are dependent on fisheries. The WWF-Malaysia booth was crowded throughout the three days as the enthusiastic team engaged with the local community who visited the Green Marine Tourism exhibition.
“It is important for the local community, particularly children, to understand the role of marine life, specifically coral reef and turtles, in the whole ecosystem, and it is crucial to encourage them to spread the message. They need to be prepared to be green tourist guides as the future of this Priority Conservation Area depends on them.” said WWF-Malaysia’s Sulu Sulawesi Marine Ecoregion Programme Manager, Robecca Jumin.
Jumin said that sustainable development and protection of natural treasures in Semporna is crucial as the area features the largest coral reef concentration in Malaysia, which is a valuable resource for fisheries and tourism.
“The dependency of Malaysia on fisheries and other coral reef resources has increased over time. However, 97% of reefs in Malaysia are under threats of overfishing including destructive fishing, land-based pollution and unsustainable tourism development,” Jumin added. Semporna has the largest percentage of coral cover within Malaysia. Coral reefs play an important role in fisheries and tourism sectors.
The beauty and diversity of the coral reefs attract thousands of tourists from all over the world, and the number of tourist arrivals has put increasing pressure on the marine resources.
In 2012, a total of 2.88 million tourists were reported to travel to Sabah. This showed the value of tourism as a key income resource as well as highlighted the need to focus on sustainable tourism and protection.
In the past few years, WWF-Malaysia has been working together with tourist operators, government agencies and also local communities to ensure that the impact of tourism on the marine resources is reduced. In conjunction with that, WWF-Malaysia initiated a strategy called Green Marine Tourism involving these important stakeholders.
The Regatta Lepa is held annually to celebrate the heritage and culture of the people of Semporna, especially the Bajau Laut. The festival attracts people from all over Sabah as well as from other countries.
WWF-Malaysia (World Wide Fund for Nature-Malaysia), the national conservation trust, currently runs more than 90 projects covering a diverse range of environmental protection work. Since 1972, WWF-Malaysia has worked on important conservation projects, from saving endangered species such as tigers and turtles, to protecting our highland forests, rivers and seas. We also undertake environmental education and advocacy work to achieve conservation goals. By conserving our natural resources, WWF-Malaysia is helping to protect our livelihoods, food and water supply, thus securing our good quality of life and our children’s bright future. We thank our supporters and members of the Media, whose contributions and support enable our conservation work. If you would like to donate to WWF-Malaysia or learn more about our projects, please call: +603-78033772 or visit: wwf.org.my or www.facebook.com/wwfmy
WWF’s mission is to stop the degradation of the planet’s natural environment and to build a future in which humans live in harmony with nature by:
• Conserving the world’s biological diversity
• Ensuring that the use of renewable natural resources is sustainable
• Promoting the reduction of pollution and wasteful production
For more information, please contact:
Alexa Antal, Communications Manager, Sulu Sulawesi Marine Ecoregion Programme, WWF-Malaysia
Tel: +6088-262420 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Yeoh Lin Lin, Head of Communications, WWF-Malaysia
Tel: +603-78033772 Email: email@example.com