21 January 2009

Malaysian department recognises importance of seagrass

Official response to the call to conserve the lush seagrasses and marine ecosystems in Johor should be preserved, especially as they lie close to planned industrial developments, says a letter to The Star.
These shores lies across from the TeamSeagrass monitoring site at Tuas. Among the habitats mentioned were seagrasses and reefs at Pulau Merambong (here's more about this island). The area is also near on-going reclamation at Tuas.

The Star 21 Jan 09;
WE refer to the letter “Seagrass site of great value” (The Star, Jan 1) by Mah Hong Seng on his suggestion to the Department of Fisheries to gazette the Merambong seagrass site located close to Sungai Pulai (Gelang Patah), Johor.

The department has jointly with the Malaysian National Seagrass Committee published a book entitled National Seagrass Report Of Malaysia.

The report is the outcome of a project collaboration with the United Nations Environmental Program-GEF conducted during 2003-2006.

About 30ha of seagrass are estimated at the Merambong site. We fully agree that the seagrass ecosystem is a very important habitat for many commercially important species of fishes, shrimps and shellfish.

In fact, seagrass is recognised as essential food for dugongs, sea horses and sea turtles.

At the moment, the seagrass is partly protected in marine parks, state parks, fisheries protected areas (i.e. Pulau Talang Talang, Sarawak), mangrove forest reserves and also a Ramsar site (i.e. Sungai Pulai).

The department fully supported the idea of gazetting these areas as marine protected areas. Apart from encouraging the development of the fishing and aquaculture industry, the department will always be aware of the responsibility to protect ecosystems that support the fisheries sector.

Halijah Mat Sin,
Public Relations Officer,
For the Director-General, Department of Fisheries Malaysia.

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