Fishermen’s fishing grounds and shorelines thriving with reef balls deployment

Jaul (3rd left) with Datuk Sebastian Ting (clad in yellow) visiting some of the exhibition booths before the launching.

By Jaythaleela K

MIRI, June 28: The Conservation, Education and Public Awareness (CEPA) programme for Miri-Sibuti Coral Reef National Park was officially launched today, with 40 Honorary Wildlife Rangers taking part in facilitating the programme under close guidance by Sarawak Forestry Corporation (SFC) and Petronas.

The programme was launched by Acting Sarawak State Secretary Datu Jaul Samion in, Lutong, Baram, near here.

“This CEPA programme is a testament to the success of the primary component of the project which is the Reef Balls deployment,” said Jaul, who is also the programme chairman.

He lauded the programme for being beneficial to the local fishermen as well as offering more tourism opportunities with more diversified recreational activities such as scuba diving and sports fishing.

“It has gone a long way since SFC first introduced the use of reef balls in marine ecosystem conservation efforts and Petronas has had the farsightedness to forge their CSR collaboration in the exercise,” he said, adding that the Reef Balls deployment project was now backed solidly by the state government with pledges to deploy them along strategic locations along Sarawak shorelines.

The programme was the final component of the five-year Petronas-Sarawak Forestry Eco-Marine Conservation Project at Miri-Sibuti Coral Reef National Park.

To date, SFC has deployed some 1,750 of the reef balls which provide underwater haven for marine life as well as protect shorelines and local fishermen’s fishing grounds.

The highlights of the event included awareness talks on conservation, exhibitions and tree planting to create environmental awareness and volunteerism opportunities for the local communities.

“The programme aims to educate and create awareness for local communities to be more environmentally conscious and understand the importance of conservation of ecosystem and wildlife,” said SFC chief executive officer Zolkipli Mohamad Aton.

The 40 honorary wildlife rangers were the first batch to be appointed, in line with the ’community participation’ approach undertaken in managing Totally Protected Areas, the rangers appointed from amongst the local communities and stakeholders would be trained to take charge of the programme, thus presenting the opportunity for local communities to actively participate in conservation activities.

Meanwhile, Petronas Sarawak general manager Zulaihi M Mantali said: ”We will see to it that activities such as aerial and marine surveys, education outreach programmes for students and many other programmes will be carried out in stages to increase the community’s awareness of the importance of preserving and appreciating our natural heritage for the generations to come.” — DayakDaily