24th November 2015
KUALA LUMPUR : On the 17th of November 2015, Reef Check Malaysia (RCM) and the Department of Marine Parks Malaysia (DMPM) hosted a workshop to disseminate Action Plans developed to protect marine ecosystems in Malaysia. Targeted at various government departments as well as NGOs, the Plans were drafted to address the many local impacts that pose a threat to coral reefs and other marine ecosystems.
The programme is in line with the Aichi Biodiversity Targets of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD). Target 10 states that "By 2015, the multiple anthropogenic pressures on coral reefs and other vulnerable ecosystems impacted by climate change or ocean acidification are minimised, so as to maintain their integrity and functioning." As a signatory to the Convention on Biological Diversity, Malaysia has an obligation to develop strategies to achieve Target 10.
The programme began in 2014 when DMPM requested RCM to conduct a programme to identify all the local impacts to coral reefs in Malaysia, and prepare Action Plans to mitigate them. In total, 27 local impacts were identified, and draft plans were prepared. Four were successfully tested over a six month period, to assess the practicability of the approach, before wider circulation.
The one day workshop was attended by representatives of several Federal and State government agencies, as well as NGO’s and universities. During his introductory presentation on Aichi Target 10, Julian Hyde, General Manager of RCM, stated: “Coral reefs are valuable ecosystems in Malaysia, both ecologically and economically. If we can reduce damage at a local level, we can make them more resilient and likely to withstand broader shocks that we can’t resolve at a local level, such as global warming”.
Participants reviewed the Plans under four themes: tourism, waste, development and fishing. Chen Sue Yee, a Programme Manager with RCM and project leader said: “It was very delightful to see different stakeholders sitting together, reviewing the action plans seriously and giving their ideas freely with the common aim of addressing the local impacts.”
Moving forward, RCM will incorporate revisions suggested during the workshop before circulating the Plans to the relevant agencies responsible for implementation. Many of the mitigation measures listed in the Action Plans require cooperation between a number of stakeholders, including government, NGOs, local communities and business operators on the islands. RCM will continue to play a role, encouraging the different interest groups to work together to reduce local impacts to coral reefs and other marine ecosystems in Malaysia.
The programme takes on greater significance In light of the recently predicted mass coral bleaching episode, expected to affect reefs around Malaysia early in 2016. Hyde said: “we need to act now on these local threats; it isn’t too late to take action”.
|Participants of the Local Impacts Workshop|
Participants during the introductory presentation by
|Group discussing the action plans in detail|