Country eyes more marine parks by 2020
KUALA LUMPUR, May 22 — The Natural Resources and Environment Ministry plans to increase the number of marine parks in the country to 50 by 2020 from the 42 currently.
Its deputy minister, Tan Sri Joseph Kurup (picture), said the Marine Parks Department was currently working with several state governments to finalise the islands to be gazetted as marine protected areas.
“The Kedah state government has agreed to gazette three more islands while Perak has agreed to gazette several islands at Kepulauan Sembilan, and the Sabah government has also agreed to provide us another island,” he told reporters after launching the national-level International Day for Biodiversity 2012 celebration here today.
He said this was one of the steps towards achieving the “Aichi Biodiversity Target” of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) adopted in 2010 whereby every CBD member needs to have at least 10 per cent of marine protected areas by 2020.
Currently, Malaysian marine parks are home to about 1,100 fish species, 550 coral species and 200 species of other marine life.
In conjunction with the celebration, Kurup also launched the Marine Biodiversity Expedition aimed at collecting scientific data on the state of Malaysian marine resources, including their chemical and physical environment.
It would provide crucial information on the changes in the country’s marine ecosystem and the effects of climate change on such environment, he said of the expedition which involves a collaboration between the Marine Parks Department, National Oceanography Directorate as well as the Science, Technology and Innovation Ministry.
About 10 academicians from Universiti Teknologi Mara, Universiti Malaysia Terengganu, International Islamic University Malaysia, Universiti Malaysia Sabah, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia, Universiti Sains Malaysia and Universiti Malaya will take part in the mission.
Kurup said the six-month expedition was divided into six zones, including 21 marine park islands, and was expected to end by October.
“We hope that the results will be published so that we can further study the possibility of creating new wealth, especially in terms of pharmaceutical value,” he said.
May 22 was declared International Day for Biodiversity by the United Nations General Assembly in December 2000 to create awareness on the need to jointly conserve biodiversity.
The theme of this year’s celebration is “Marine Biodiversity” with the slogan “One Ocean, Many Worlds of Life”. — Bernama