Earth Hour: Locals turn off lights for marine conservation | WWF Malaysia

Earth Hour: Locals turn off lights for marine conservation



Posted on 31 March 2008
A thriving reef, which serves as protection for fish species, and attraction to local and foreign divers.
A thriving reef, which serves as protection for fish species, and attraction to local and foreign divers.
© WWF-Malaysia/Eric Madeja
Semporna, Sabah – Tourism operators in the Semporna region, including Borneo Divers Mabul Resort, Uncle Chang’s Sipadan Mabul Dive Lodge, and Scuba Junkie, were amongst some of the businesses throughout Sabah who switched off their lights for one hour last Saturday (29 March 2008, from 8pm to 9pm). This was in an effort to send out a message about the need to alter the course of climate change - the greatest long term threat to coral reefs.

Climate change, the change in average weather, has a strong impact on marine ecosystems, including coral reefs, mangrove forests and seagrass beds. This is no exception in Sabah, which has a reef cover of almost 4 times the size of Singapore.

Roland, a local operator, said, "Many people look at climate change as an issue too large to handle. We must first change our attitudes, and realise that each one of us can make a difference, even through the small act of turning our lights off".

During Earth Hour, the activities held on Mabul Island included a presentation on current conservation efforts in Semporna by Daniel Doughty, Team Leader of WWF-Malaysia’s Semporna Priority Conservation Area (PCA) Project, the screening of a 2-minute video on the true meaning of Earth Hour, and dancing in the dark to acoustic music. Tourists spent the rest of the time lying on the beach, enjoying the clarity of the stars.

Dr. Annadel Cabanban, WWF-Malaysia’s Sulu-Sulawesi Marine Ecoregion Manager, applauds the actions of the people of Sabah who took the initiative to participate in Earth Hour. She further explains that, while other pressures such as over-fishing, land-based pollution and inadequate water systems affect the conditions of the reefs, climate change aggravates conditions even further. More frequent storms occur due to the changes in atmospheric pressure. This makes coastal waters rough, damaging corals in shallow waters. Another impact is the reduction of the salinity of coastal waters, due to an increase in fresh water entering into the ocean, which kills coral. Climate change also results in the increase of water temperatures, causing coral bleaching which can result in the potential death of corals.

Taking action to save coral reefs is crucial. In Sabah, coral reefs serve as an important source of livelihood for coastal communities, providing revenue to the state through tourism and fisheries. On Earth Hour, CEO of WWF-Malaysia, Dr. Dionysius S.K. Sharma states, "It is not about one hour. It is about creating a change; encouraging individuals, households and businesses to think about the effects that our daily actions have on the environment. It is about saving our planet".


For further information, please contact:
Marina Aman Sham, Communications Officer, Sulu-Sulawesi Marine Ecoregion Programme, WWF-Malaysia
Tel (office): +6088 262 420 / Mobile: +6 012 833 1976 / E-mail: msham@wwf.org.my
A thriving reef, which serves as protection for fish species, and attraction to local and foreign divers.
A thriving reef, which serves as protection for fish species, and attraction to local and foreign divers.
© WWF-Malaysia/Eric Madeja Enlarge