Dive Operators Learn How to Monitor Threatened Reefs
The course was organised under WWF-Malaysia’s Semporna Coral Reefs Project, which aims to encourage the collaborative management of coral reefs, and the sustainable use of marine resources in the Semporna region. This capacity building course is being conducted in recognition of the importance that the tourism sector plays in the conservation of vulnerable marine resources in this region, and the need to gain strong commitment towards long-term cooperative management.
Reef Check aims to educate participants about the value of coral reefs and the crisis facing them. General Manager of Reef Check Malaysia, Julian Hyde, said “We are delighted to see such an enthusiastic response from dive centres, and look forward to seeing this translated into active coral reef conservation programmes.”
He stressed the importance of getting local dive centres involved in monitoring the reefs, as they are constantly “on the ground”. Dive centres are also an important link to working with local communities, which they draw upon to provide key personnel.
Subuh Yunus, a seasoned Dive Instructor from Borneo Divers, says that through this programme, he has learned about new aspects of marine life and the reefs. He claims that sharing these lessons learnt with his fellow colleagues will open up discussions to enhance efforts in reef conservation.
The three-day programme included classroom-style lessons on the importance of buoyancy control while conducting Reef Checks, explanations of indicator species – fish and invertebrate species whose presence or absence provides an indication of the health of the reefs, and, substrate identification – accessing the percentage of area covered by a specific coral type in a reef. The participants were then provided with hands-on underwater training.
WWF-Malaysia’s Semporna Coral Reefs Project supports its Sulu-Sulawesi Marine Ecoregion Programme. Three Priority Conservation Areas (PCA) are identified in Sabah – Sandakan, Kudat, and Semporna. Semporna PCA is identified as a globally significant Priority Conservation Area within the ecoregion for its extremely high coral and fish richness, productivity of its marine habitats, populations of endangered green and hawksbill turtles, intact ecosystem of Sipadan Island - Malaysia’s only offshore island - and migratory pathway of marine species such as whale sharks and sea turtles. With an area covering approximately 5,500 sq km2, it is home to Malaysia’s largest concentration of coral reefs, which are the natural capital of reef fisheries and lucrative dive tourism.
For further information, please contact:
Ms Marina Aman Sham, Communications Officer
Sulu-Sulawesi Marine Ecoregion Programme, WWF-Malaysia
Tel: +6088 262 420 ext 27 / Fax: +6088 242 531 / Mobile: 012 833 1976 / E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org