Teluk Darvel, Lahad Datu to be gazetted as protected marine park
Last Update: 15/02/2019
By Khatijah Jistoh
LAHAD DATU, Feb 15 (Bernama) -- Teluk Darvel or Teluk Lahad Datu, here, will be gazetted as a protected marine area by the state government towards making it an eco-tourism draw.
State Tourism, Culture and Environment Assistant Minister, Assaffal P Alian said efforts were being made to gazette the over 100,000-hectare bay, including collecting marine data in the area through a scientific expedition led by Sabah Parks.
"Currently, more than 20 researchers from various agencies including Sabah Parks, Universiti Malaysia Sabah and the Malaysia Remote Sensing Agency are involved in the scientific expedition.
"These researchers have expertise in various fields including marine biology and in using the latest technology for mapping.”
He said this when met by reporters after officiating at the closing of the Teluk Darvel Scientific Expedition 2019 at the Silam Coast Conservation Area, here, today.
Assaffal wants Sabah Parks to draw up three guidelines towards gazetting Teluk Darvel, covering timeline, key performance indicators (KPI) and results.
"I will propose at the (state) cabinet meeting for Sabah Parks to oversee Teluk Darvel and treat it as a marine park which can be elevated to a tourist destination," he said.
Assaffal also wants the stakeholders including tourism industry players to together help develop and conserve Teluk Darvel.
"Although we will gazette Teluk Darvel, its 50-odd islands will still be under the Sabah Forestry Department while the marine data will be used for the purpose of zoning. For example, if an area is suitable for a fishing industry, we will turn it into a fishing industry zone," he said, adding that the move was to safeguard the bay’s ecosystem.
Meanwhile, Sabah Parks director, Jamili Nais said the department was ready to take up the state government’s challenge of gazetting Teluk Darvel for the purpose of rehabilitation, tourism promotion, research and conservation, with the scientific expedition as the starting point.
He said Sabah Parks together with Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia had conducted a scientific expedition at Teluk Darvel in 1989 with the then government aiming to gazette the area as a protected marine park.
”However, the study done at the time found the bay facing the extensive problem of damaged coral reefs, hence gazetting the bay as a protected marine area no longer became a priority.
"After 30 years of learning from other parts of the world, we no longer place priority on marine areas that have not been damaged but on those areas with the potential of being protected and conserved, like the Tun Mustapha Marine Park,” he noted.
A study conducted in 1977 by WWF Malaysia on the Tun Mustapha Marine Park in Kudat found that there had already been a lot of damage to the area but in 2014, it was gazetted at the biggest marine park in Malaysia.