28 February 2009

WWF-Malaysia speaks on seagrasses and live reef fish trade

WWF-Malaysia supported calls to protect seagrasses at the Merambong site (opposite Singapore's Tuas shores). WWF-Malaysia also expressed support for the recent agreement to limit live reef fish trade in Palawan in the Philippines by managing cross-border trade in these animals.

”We suspect that much of the live reef fish that are traded through Kudat probably come from southern Palawan in the Philippines. Sabah appears to be a hub for live reef fish trade in the region. Government initiatives such as the Sulu-Sulawsei Marine Ecoregion and the Coral Triangle Initiative have recognized the importance of managing the transboundary nature of this trade” said Ken Kassem, Sulu-Sulawesi Marine Ecoregion Manager for WWF-Malaysia.

Dato' Dr. Dionysius S.K. Sharma D.P.M.P., Executive Director/CEO, WWF-Malaysia meanwhile separately expressed hope that the Department of Fisheries Malaysia will also proactively take the lead in pushing for better management and protection of other marine ecosystems for fish resources and other endangered marine animals.

Overall, not only are many of Malaysia's natural habitats and marine ecosystems degraded or destroyed but fish stocks have also declined substantially. In some areas the declines have been as high as 95%. Today less than 0.5% of Malaysia’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) waters are gazetted as Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) and these cover mainly offshore islands. WWF-Malaysia would like to see a much higher percentage of the EEZ covered by MPAs to enable fish stocks recovery from the current overfished status.

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