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Fri 04 Aug 2006

Sipadan: construction terminated, coral recovering, Sabah Parks revamp

Category : malaysia

"Diving haven saved, clubhouse project terminated immediately." By Muguntan Vanar. The Star Online, 03 Aug 2006.

KOTA KINABALU: Finally, firm action is being taken to protect the rich, yet fragile, marine eco-system of the diving haven of Pulau Sipadan.

The contract for the controversial RM4.5mil clubhouse project on Sipadan has been terminated with immediate effect, Chief Minister Datuk Musa Aman said after a state Cabinet meeting yesterday. He also ordered a management revamp of Sabah Parks, the state government agency that oversees all gazetted parks and islands, including Sipadan and Mount Kinabalu.

Musa said the Sipadan project would be reviewed under a totally new concept, and "I will take charge of it." "We will obtain the approval of the Prime Minister on a revised project for Sipadan," he said.

He said the state Cabinet decided on restructuring Sabah Parks management because of its poor handling of the Sipadan project. It also bungled the project involving the construction of a rest house on Mount Kinabalu, a World Heritage.

Contractor Kumpulan Surati Sdn Bhd undertook the Sipadan project, including the building of a sewage facility. But it came under severe criticism when a barge ran aground, scraping off coral reefs on a patch the size of two tennis courts on May 14. The contractor apologised and was ordered to clean up the building material that fell into the sea.

Musa halted work on the project but later said that the Cabinet had decided to allow the project to continue, but scaled down and using environmentally friendly materials. He came under fire from Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi. Musa said the new development concept would involve only the building of toilets and a small rest area for divers.

On the other controversial issue of logging in the Malua and Ulu Segama forest reserves that has been bequeathed as Malaysia’s biodiversity gift to the world, Musa said logging would be phased out by end of 2007. Apart from Malua (33,969ha) and Ulu Segama (202,586ha) forest reserves, Musa said, logging would also be phased out in Kelompang forest reserve (3,768ha). All three reserves surround Danum Valley.

© 1995-2005 Star Publications (Malaysia) Bhd (Co No 10894-D)

"Damaged reefs slowly but surely recovering." By Tan Cheng Li. The Star, 28 Jul 2006.

"PETALING JAYA: The Sipadan coral reefs which were damaged by a barge carrying construction material in mid-May are slowly but surely recovering.

Marine biologist Dr Nicolas Pilcher said the reefs, where only the coral tips had been scraped off by the vessel, have grown. The director of Kota Kinabalu-based Marine Research Foundation, which was appointed by Sabah Parks to restore the reef, said the damage was minimal and nowhere near the extent reported in the press.

"There was no one complete destruction zone but several scattered small patches. This is good news for the reef. Chances of recovery are better as the adjacent healthy reef will help replenish the damaged areas," he said.

Over the month of June, Dr Pilcher and his staff were at Sipadan assessing the reef regeneration and also removing coral and rock rubble that prevented young coral from getting a firm foothold on the substrate.

The next phase of restoration work will see the creation of artificial reefs. Ceramic structures, made in the United States and designed to resemble the underwater landscape, will be placed in the worst-afflicted sites to promote coral regeneration.

"We envision that the structures will be completely covered with corals within six months to a year. This will help stabilise the reef in the larger damaged areas and fix the reef faster," he said.  "The potential of recovery is good because Sipadan has one of the best and healthiest reefs in the country."

Posted at 1:15AM UTC by N. Sivasothi | permalink | email | Raffles Museum news