Enforcement boost in TMP – thanks to US
Published on: Thursday, September 20, 2018

Kota Kinabalu: Monitoring and enforcement in Tun Mustapha Park (TMP) by Sabah Parks and its agencies received a boost with the completion of the park's communication equipment system project. A VHF (very high frequency) Marine Radio Network system installed at Bukit Sinambung in Banggi, one of the islands under TMP, at the cost of RM400,000, with full funding from the State Department of the United States (US), was handed over by its contractor to Sabah Parks Deputy Director cum TMP Manager, Fazrullah Rizally Abd Razak, at a ceremony in Kudat, Wednesday.

It was witnessed by Sabah Parks Director Dr Jamili Nais and Bradley Hurst, Counsellor of Public Affairs at the US Embassy in Kuala Lumpur. The Embassy's Cultural Affairs Assistant, Rohafazlyna Ismail, WWF-Malaysia Head of Marine, Dr Robecca Jumin, and representatives of government enforcement agencies concerned were also present.

The month-long project to install the said communication system was fully completed end of last month.

Dr Jamili said the system greatly enabled the operation of TMP by upscaling efficiency in patrolling not only by Sabah Parks but also in its collaboration with enforcement agencies within TMP.

"This is a big step for us in Sabah Parks. In the long run, and in pursuant our Sabah Parks Strategic Plan 2025 objectives, it is hoped that the efficiency and effectiveness of the management of TMP could be upgraded in all aspects especially in protection of marine biodiversity; bringing it international level best management standard," he said.

"The system will enable direct communication between radio sets very efficiently from all areas within the whole TMP, which was not possible previously. With it they can directly contact the relevant enforcement agencies if they spotted any fish bombing, cyanide fishing, turtle poaching and other illegal activities within the protected park area.

"Not only that, we are now able to equip our 30 honorary park rangers with walkie-talkies for effective monitoring and enforcement," he told a press conference later.

Earlier in his speech, Dr Jamili said the programme began when he was invited as Director of Sabah Parks by the US Government to the White House, Washington D. C. on Sept 16, 2016 to introduce TMP and efforts to have it gazetted as Malaysia's largest Marine Protected Area (MPA).

"The visit also gave me the opportunity to share some of TMP's conservation potentials nationally and regionally (within the Coral Triangle Initiative)," he said.

"On Dec 5, 2016, Marcel Bigue, who was then Marine Programme Director representing WildAid which was contracted by the US State Department, made his first visit to our office to discuss what are the potential projects that could be implemented in TMP. This was followed up with another visit (Feb 12–22, 2017) where he also conducted courtesy calls and discussions with other stakeholders, including enforcement agencies, local authorities and community representatives, to gather as much important and relevant information," he said.

As a result, he said, a document of a compliance plan for TMP, which recommended several projects, was developed by WildAid and submitted to Sabah Parks through the State Department on April 13, 2017.

"Most of recommendations by the plan focused on the optimisation of patrolling strategies and increasing compliance. The recommendations include designing and implementation of surveillance system, co-management strategies, better patrolling equipment, human resource requirements, etc," he said.

"To proceed with this, several discussions were conducted which eventually agreed that a VHF Marine Radio Network system be developed for TMP. It was also agreed that the programme will provide surveillance and safety equipment for our Park Rangers, including those appointed as Honorary Park Rangers."

Dr Jamili said apart from the VHF Marine Network system installation, some other discussions were held with the State Department in early 2018 regarding the implementation of mini-programmes under its funding.

Hurst, in his speech, said the United State's Embassy in Malaysia had been delighted to play a role in improving the enforcement and management of TMP over the past two years, and especially thrilled by the high level of cooperation and collaboration between various parties.

He said TMP was a uniquely spectacular habitat which homed to mangrove forests, sea grass beds and coral reefs, all of which served as a critical breeding ground for resident marine species as well as migratory species such as whale sharks.

"TMP waters are home to at least 82 species of hard corals, 715 species of fish, 50 species of molluscs, 25 species of snails and 130 species of seaweed. There are also at least 20 species of shark recorded in the TMP area, nesting sites for Hawksbill and Green turtles, two species of dolphins, and dugong.

"TMP is significant not only for its biodiversity but also for its governance, marking a new way of park management in Sabah," he said. - ­Larry Ralon


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