By Christopher Lidom
KUCHING, June 29: The Sarawak government’s allocation of RM70 million for marine conservation efforts will help to protect the state’s coastal water and benefit the local fishermen, said Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg.
He said the Sarawak Reef Ball Project (SRBP) is an exemplary conservation project that has not only benefitted the marine wildlife and ecosystem, particularly the turtles, but has proven to improve the livelihood of local fishermen.
According to him, this was evident by the success in the waters of Sematan and Belawai where the amount of catches had improved significantly after reef balls had been deployed.
“And as the Sarawak government is progressively keeping the state’s coastal waters away from illegal trawlers, marine species will be able to grow and reproduce, and local fishermen living along the shore can have better catch and income.
“Sarawak Forestry Corporation (SFC) has shown an exemplary steadfastness in being persistent and resolute in seeing to its implementation till it bears positive and promising outcomes.
“Therefore, the Sarawak government has set aside a substantial allocation of RM70 million to finance the project,” he said during a press conference held after gracing the launching ceremony of SRBP held at Muara Tebas-Sebuyau coastal waters, today.
Thus far, SFC has deployed 600 units of reef balls in Belawai-Paloh coastal waters in 2018, 600 units and 1,200 units in Lawas and Igan to Mukah coastal waters respectively last year, while another 1,200 units are deployed in Muara Tebas-Sebuyau coastal waters, as of today.
Johari, who is also the chairman for SFC, noted that the marine conservation efforts in the state was further intensified with the deployment of 1,200 artificial reef balls at Muara Tebas-Sebuyau coastal waters, and it took about one week to complete.
The project which kicked off in 2018, he explained, aims to deploy 17,200 reef balls along the whole coastline of Sarawak from Tanjung Datu to Lawas to protect and conserve marine ecosystems as well as to create new ecotourism sites for scuba diving and sport fishing.
“This will improve the local community’s livelihood by enhancing marine resources and protecting their fishing grounds from illegal trawling activities.
“As announced, the Sarawak government will help the enforcement agencies, and we have set up our own coast guard to complement the activities of other enforcement agencies, particularly the inland fisheries as well as the coastal fisheries.
“That is why we have approved this allocation which is quite substantial for us, in order to protect our fishermen and the community along our coast,” he added.
Among those present at the launching ceremony were Tourism, Arts, Culture, Youth and Sports Minister Datuk Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah. -DayakDaily