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Kuala Lawas proposed as new marine protected area

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Kuala Lawas proposed as new marine protected area

Post Number:#1  Postby timyang » Mon Jan 24, 2011 11:42 am

KUCHING: Its pristine environment is free from human threats but that will be history if nothing is done to preserve it.
That is why environmentalists are proposing that Kuala Lawas be gazetted as a marine protected area (MPA).

The area comes under the Lawas district which is situated between the Sabah border and Brunei's Temburong district, and is about six hours' drive from Miri.

It is home to vulnerable marine wildlife species including dugongs and shorebirds.

Six months ago, researchers recorded sightings of 110 shorebirds.

They were of 21 species including the white-bellied sea eagle, Brahminy Kite, Great Egret, Chinese Egret, Plain Flowerpecker and Long Tailed Parakeet.

Universiti Malaysia Sabah marine mammal research unit head Dr Saifullah A. Jaaman said Kuala Lawas has the prospect of having a carefully planned, regulated and small-scale bird watching industry.

"It is a very pristine site. Even the locals there are keeping it that way," he added.

Sources said a proposal was made about seven years ago to have the area gazetted but it was shelved as there were plans to build an oil and gas platform there.

However, due to the shallow waters which made it uneconomical to operate such a platform, the plan did not proceed, giving a new breath of life to the area.

Saifullah said everybody knew that if pristine areas were not protected, it would deteriorate in time.

"And when this happens, we will start losing what we have.

"The wildlife would either vanish or migrate to other areas.

"When that happens, it will be a big loss for everyone."

Having the area gazetted as a MPA will also benefit the local population as most of the people in Kuala Lawas are fishermen.

This will help to ensure continuous fish catch for them in future.

Saifullah said many of the local people want the area to be kept as it is and hope the state authorities would gazette the area.

The findings were tabled at the 10th Hornbill Workshop held last month on the theme "Managing ecosystem for sustainability" where one of the resolutions called for the gazetting of Kuala Lawas.
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