In just 20 years, we stand to lose our coral reefs. When we lose our coral reefs, we lose our fish. And when we lose our fish, we lose an income and, most importantly, we lose food. Reef Check Malaysia (RCM) is a non-profit organisation established to engage locals about the importance of and threats facing our coral reefs. One of their many projects is Cintai Tioman - a project dedicated to the largest island on the east coast of Peninsular Malaysia.
“The biggest threats to Tioman is coastal and inland development and pollution, which includes trash, sewage, and grey water,” says Mey Wong, RCM’s marketing & communications manager. “Other threats include destructive tourism activities and the lack of control and monitoring of live on boards, yachts, and even recreational fishers.”
With a population of 3,000 people across seven villages, the relationship between its inhabitants is directly related to the purity of its waters. “Tourism is the main source of income for the majority of the locals, and the tourism industry is heavily dependent on the wellbeing of the coral reefs. Tourists visit the island because they want to scuba dive, snorkel and swim in crystal clear waters filled with healthy coral reefs. Take this away and tourists will stop coming as well,” says Wong, adding that other than the loss of income for fishermen, corals also act as guards that shield coastal areas against harsh, sometimes violent waves which can cause land erosions. “The loss of reefs would expose or leave houses closest to the shore vulnerable, especially during the annual monsoon season.”
HOW YOU CAN HELP: If you can’t donate cash, donate your time by volunteering or supporting a Green Fins Dive Centre that has pledged to reduce their impact on the environment. You should also always abide by marine park rules when visiting.
Details at www.reefcheck.org.my
|Reef Check volunteers checking the health of corals in Tioman|