Semporna Priority Conservation Area | WWF Malaysia

Semporna Priority Conservation Area


Since 1980, WWF-Malaysia has been active in the Semporna Priority Conservation Area, primarily with small-scale projects addressing several coral reef surveys and assisting in the establishment of the Tun Sakaran Marine Park. A larger commitment to the Semporna Priority Conservation Area began in August 2007, with a project funded by WWF-Netherlands, to facilitate the collaborative management of coral reefs with tourism and fisheries.

In 2008, WWF-Malaysia was encouraged by the enthusiastic support of all local stakeholders and WWF-Netherlands to scale up the project and increased funding was obtained for the project “Facilitating Collaborative Management of Coral Reefs and Adjacent Ecosystems with Tourism and Fisheries”.

Coral reefs of the SSME

© WWF-Malaysia/Eric Madeja

Threats and Current strategy

The Semporna Priority Conservation Area (PCA) is approximately 7,680 km2 and is situated in south-eastern Sabah, Malaysia. Currently, the protected areas within Semporna PCA include Tun Sakaran Marine Park (350 km2 gazetted in 2004) and the proposed Sipadan Island Park (168 km2 of water and coral reefs proposed in June 2009), both of which are managed by Sabah Parks. The rest of the Semporna PCA has no park or protected status except for some areas that benefit from informal local protection, such as those enforced by dive resorts on nearby islands.

Priority threats in the Semporna PCA include:
  1. Over fishing / Over collection in coral reefs
  2. Bomb fishing / Cyanide fishing in coral reefs
  3. Illegal collection of turtle eggs
  4. Impacts from plastic bag pollution to turtles
  5. By-catch of turtles
  6. Beach erosion (turtle nesting areas)
  7. Seagrass destruction (turtle feeding grounds)
  8. Conversion of mangroves for development
  9. Cutting of mangroves for timber and fire wood.
  10. Impacts on mangroves from household solid waste
  11. Unplanned tourism development
  12. Sedimentation
  13. Eutrophication

Project activities/modules

Strategies are grouped into 3 main modules:

Module 1 – Conservation of Marine Ecosystems
1.1. Collaborative Environmental Monitoring
1.2 Collaborative anti-fish bomb patrolling
1.3 Sustainable Tourism Management Initiative for “Green Marine Tourism”
1.4 Environmental Awareness through Anti Littering / Plastic Campaign

Module 2 – Conservation of Target Species
2.1. Turtle Nest Adoption Programme

Module 3 - Sustainable Fisheries Management

3.1 Improve Fisheries Management (tuna and sea cucumber)
3.2 Gender Mainstreaming of Women in Natural Resource Management