Park is home to 80,000 people and has more than 250 species of hard corals
The Sabah State Government has established a marine conservation reserve off the coast of North Borneo. Called the Tun Mustapha Park (TMP), it covers almost 1 million hectares of coral reefs, mangroves, seagrass and productive fishing grounds, and includes more than 50 islands.
It is the result of more than 13 years of preparatory work involving government agencies, local communities and international partners, as well as the support of non-governmental organisations like WWF-Malaysia.
Comprising 50 islands, the TMP has one of the world's most diverse ecosystems with coral reefs, mangrove forests, seagrass areas and essential fishing grounds. It is home to 80,000 people along its coasts and on the nearby islands. It is also located in the Coral Triangle, so it has a rich biodiversity with more than 250 species of hard corals and some 360 species of fish, endangered green turtles and dugongs, as well as important primary rainforests, mangroves and seagrass beds.
Despite its essential role, the TMP is threatened by overfishing, destructive fishing practices and pollution.
Executive Director/CEO of WWF-Malaysia Dato' Dr Dionysius Sharma said, “I am deeply gratified by the declaration by the TMP. I congratulate the Sabah State Government, the Sabah Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Environment, and Sabah Parks for taking the bold steps in the gazettement of TMP, paving and leading the way for the implementation of an innovative marine protected area management in Sabah and Malaysia.”
“Effective management of the Tun Mustapha Park will help ensure the viability of the area's fisheries resources – and high quality ecotourism can provide hugely increased value, based on this natural treasure. The gazettement of this park should act as a model and an inspiration for marine conservation worldwide,” said Dr Marco Lambertini, Director General of WWF International.
Established as an IUCN Category VI Park, the TMP represents a new type of park management in Sabah. Under this category, sustainable uses are permitted and local communities living there can continue with their activities within designated areas. The region's productive fishing grounds feed more than 80,000 people in the coastal and island communities, with around 100 tonnes of fish caught daily.
Further information: www.wwf.org.my