Coral Reef
Photo credit: Tim Nicholson

Malaysia has created the Tun Mustapha Marine Park – its largest yet. In the coral triangle, the new park will help protect almost 1 million hectares of coral reef, mangrove, seagrass and fishing grounds including more than 50 islands.

It took over 13 years of negotiations, led by Malaysia’s Sabah Parks, to set up the marine park. It’s creation was applauded by conservation groups like the WWF.

“After such a long effort, it is great to have achieved landmark protection for this rich home of marine biodiversity,” said Dato’ Dr Dionysius Sharma, CEO of WWF-Malaysia. “The Tun Mustapha Park is a global symbol of how we can collectively commit to serving nature and humanity.”

Tun Mustapha Park features more than 250 species of hard corals, around 360 species of fish, green turtles and dugongs as well as significant primary rainforest, mangroves and seagrass beds. It supports the livelihoods of thousands of people. However, overfishing, destructive fishing and pollution have threatened its unique ecosystem in recent years, highlighting the need for sustainable management.

The park heralds a new approach to nature management in places like Sabah. It will allow for sustainable uses, especially ensuring local communities living in the protected area can continue their activities within designated zones. This is critical as the area’s productive fishing grounds support more than 80,000 people in coastal and island communities, generating around 100 tonnes of fish catch each day.

Sabah is a populuar diving area – it contains the famous Sipadan island which is home to Barracuda Point, one of the best dives in the world.

Barracuda by Andrew Reay-Robinson

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