Tuesday, 03 December, 2019 10:00:08 PM

Tawau Division  >  Semporna Town  >  Tun Sakaran Marine Park

Satellite image and island names

The Largest Marine Park in Sabah.
Tun Sakaran Marine Park
(Semporna Islands Park)
The largest marine park in Sabah.
Comprises of eight islands—Bohey Dulang, Bodgaya, Tetagan, Sebangkat, Selakan, Maiga, Sibuan and Mantabuan.

The Semporna Islands Darwin Project (SIDP)
The Semporna Islands Darwin Project (SIDP) is an initiative involving local communities in coral reef conservation in the recently gazette Tun Sakaran Marine Park, Sabah, Malaysia.
The project is managed by the Marine Conservation Society in collaboration with Sabah Parks, and the aim is to protect the outstanding features and biodiversity of the site while promoting sustainable use of natural resources, economic development and traditional culture.

Semporna Islands Darwin Project (SIDP)

Semporna Islands Darwin Project (SIDP)
 Community Action for Sustainable Use and Conservation of Coral Reefs".
Tun Sakaran Marine Park's project:
Objectives of the Semporna Islands Darwin Project:

to protect the area's natural features;
to promote economic development;
to develop sustainable resource use.

The Tun Sakaran Marine Park does not include Sipadan Island which is far apart although they are both accessed from Semporna. The islands of the Tun Sakaran Marine park are only 20 kms off shore.

Tun Sakaran Marine Park is not a national park. It is a state park under the jurisdiction of Sabah rather than the Malaysian federal government. The management is under Sabah Parks Authority.

To protect fish stocks a zoning system is introduced : 1) no take zones, 2) general use zones and 3) preservation zones.
There are about 2,000 people on the eight islands of Tun Sakaran Marine Park which covers some 350 sq km, most of whom are fishermen and seaweed farmers. They rely on the marine resources and use them in an unsustainable way such as destructive fishing practices in bombing and cyanide use.

When key areas are made off-limits to fishing, fish stocks will improve and spill over into adjacent areas where the fisherman can fish, so the benefits will be there for the fishermen to see.
Seaweed farming has great potential and can be developed into a livelihood for many.
The same is true for sea ranching activities such as giant clam farming and abalone breeding.
There is also a longer term plan for the local island communities to get more involved in the tourism industry with homestay programmes, employment as trekking guides and other ancillary roles.

The marine park is 350 square kilometers in size and comprises eight islands, the largest one being Bodgaya.

Close to half, or 163 square kilometers, is covered with reefs and studies have shown that reefs in the park extend from sea level to about 20 meters in depth in the western side and more than 50 meters deep in the eastern part.

The site is a global marine biodiversity hotspot as it has species diversity higher than any other site in Malaysia. There are a recorded 544 coral reef fish, 255 hard coral and 70 soft coral species. It is also home to the hawksbill and the green turtle.

SEMPORNA town gained worldwide popularity for its calm turquoise waters filled with natural wonders.

It is here that conservationists are working with local communities to tell them about alternative livelihoods, now that they live within a marine park.
Villagers concerned their loss of traditional fishing grounds and restrictions on fishing methods

This is by no means an easy task. For centuries the fishermen, in this Tun Sakaran Marine Park, have cast their nets to catch sought-after groupers for the live fish trade. They sell them for a few ringgit to traders in Semporna town.

Others have been actively involved in "fish blasting", destroying reefs in the process.
Fishermen have for generations dived into the waters to collect clams or harvest colorful corals which become decorative pieces on shelves.

But things are now changing. Under the three-year Semporna Islands Darwin Project (SIDP), the 2,000 villagers in Tun Sakaran Marine Park are introduced the seaweed farming and clam ranching as new sources of income.

The project is managed by the British-based Marine Conservation Society in collaboration with Sabah Parks. Their work is aided by a grant from the Darwin Initiative through funding from several international bodies, including the British Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.
Project leader Dr Elizabeth Wood, a scientist attached to the Marine Conservation Society, says more than half of villagers met were unaware they were living inside the boundaries of a marine park gazette four years ago.
As a result of 15 years of hard work and lobbying efforts by the Sabah Parks, the Marine Conservation Society and WWF-Malaysia, the Tun Sakaran Marine Park was finally gazette as a protected marine area in 2005.
Part of the larger Sulu-Sulawesi Marine Ecoregion (SSME) shared by Malaysia, Philippines and Indonesia, this 350 sq km park - the largest marine park in Sabah - promises to protect critical habitat and restore depleted wildlife populations.

Reefbase Map of Darvel Bay

Other organizations involved in the programme include the
1) Fisheries Department Sabah
2) Universiti Malaysia Sabah
3) WWF-Malaysia

The project has been grant-aided by the Darwin Initiative, through funding from the UK Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and with additional support from the North of England Zoological Society, International Coral Reef Action Network (ICRAN), Lighthouse Foundation, National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, Wild Asia and Reef Conservation-UK.
Overview & Objectives for Semporna Islands Darwin Project 2005 -2008

Community Action for Sustainable Use and Conservation of Coral Reefs is a 3-year project (2005-2008) being implemented in the Tun Sakaran Marine Park (TSMP) in Sabah , Malaysia . It has been grant-aided by the Darwin Initiative through funding from the UK Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and is managed by the Marine Conservation Society in collaboration with Sabah Parks. Others involved include the Sabah Fisheries Department, Universiti Malaysia Sabah and WWF-Malaysia.
The Darwin project takes forward recommendations made in the draft Management Plan for the TSMP, produced during the EC funded ‘Semporna Islands Project (1998-2001). The short name for the current programme is the ‘Semporna Islands Darwin Project’ (SIDP), in acknowledgement of the close links with the Phase 1 work.

The TSMP presents a new challenge because it is the first marine protected area in Malaysia where local people live within the park boundaries, use the resources and own some of the land. This calls for a different and collaborative approach to management if the objectives for the site are to be achieved. The other main challenge is to tackle the legacy of many years of unregulated, and in some cases, destructive fishing and to encourage alternative livelihoods which take pressure off the reefs.

The Darwin Project runs for three years, but the aim is that its legacy will last for very much longer and will be of value in a wider context than the TSMP. The main purpose of the project is to protect coral reef biodiversity and establish a programme for sustainable use of reef resources within the Tun Sakaran Marine Park . The project slogan ‘Our Park, Our Responsibility’ reflects the community approach to management that is essential if the Park is to be a success. For further information go to ‘ Community Activities’.

Specific objectives of SIDP are as follows:

To establish Biodiversity Conservation (no-take) Zones, with enforcement measures operating
Establishment of Biodiversity Conservation Zones (Sanctuary or No-take Zones) was recommended in the TSMP Management Plan as the most effective way of promoting recovery of exploited species and ensuring long-term conservation aims. In a survey conducted by MCS and Sabah Parks in 2004, over 90% of fishers who use the TSMP said that they agreed with the concept of no-take zones. The most difficult tasks remain – to agree where the BCZs should be located, the timescale for introducing the zones and the most effective ways of ensuring compliance with no-fishing regulations. For further information go to ‘ Zoning Plan and Conservation of Biodiversity’.

To identify marine species and habitats ‘at risk’ and introduce protection measures
Marine biodiversity within the TSMP is exceptionally high, and of regional as well as local importance. Marine and coastal habitats include mangroves, sea grass beds, lagoons, fringing, patch and bank reefs and open water. The site supports a greater diversity of marine species than recorded elsewhere in Malaysia , with over 600 species of fish, 250 species of coral and 130 species of sponge. Some of the habitats and species are particularly vulnerable and/or significant and require special conservation measures so that their long-term survival can be assured. For further information go to ‘Protected Species and Habitats’.

To develop and introduce strategies for marine resource use under permit
Use of marine resources over many years has caused stocks of fish and other edible species on the reefs around Semporna to fall to very low levels, and has drastically reduced populations of mature individuals. Destructive fishing methods such as fish blasting have added to the problem. The Darwin project is addressing these problems and producing a strategy designed to ensure sustainable use. For further information go to ‘ Resource Use’.

To develop a fully operational Mariculture and Sea Ranching Programme
Establishment of a mariculture and sea ranching programme was recommended in the TSMP Management Plan as one way of addressing the problems of over-harvesting and lack of job opportunities. This programme will provide alternative livelihoods and reduce pressure on reef resources by training local people to grow and market species such as giant clams and abalone for food, as ‘seed’ stock and/or to replenish the reefs. For further information go to ‘Alternative Livelihoods’.

To establish a Reef Biodiversity Monitoring Programme
The aim of the monitoring programme is to track the condition of the reef and the abundance, distribution and health of reef flora and fauna. It is vital to collect this information, so that changes in reef condition can be detected, and the effectiveness of management strategies (such as the introduction of BCZs) can be judged. The data obtained will help to indicate whether the actions being taken to protect biodiversity are effective or need to be modified. For further information go to ‘Reef Monitoring’.

To establish a Socio-economic Monitoring Programme
One of the aims of the project is to promote job diversification and the opportunity for people to make a more secure living through alternative livelihoods. The socio-economic monitoring programme will document if and how people’s incomes, life-styles, needs and aspirations change as a result of project activities. Feedback from the programme will help to monitor success and guide future actions and developments. For further information go to ‘ Socio-economic Profile’.

To develop and install an Interactive Environmental Management and Information Planning System (EMIPS) for the Park
EMIPS is a map-based computer database/management system that will provide a logical and organized system in which biological, physical, socio-economic and other features of the area will be stored and linked together. The system can be easily interrogated and updated and will help to inform and guide Sabah Parks on the management of the site. For further information go to ‘ Environmental Management Planning System’.

To promote public awareness of, and involvement in, conservation and management issues
Environmental awareness and education activities are playing an essential role in all aspects of the project. The aim is to promote understanding of the natural features, resources and human interactions at the site, as well as the project aims and activities. Another objective is to ensure that all those who use or visit the TSMP are aware of regulations that are introduced and the reasons why they are necessary. For further information go to ‘ Community Activities’.


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