Last Updated on Saturday, 31 August, 2019 11:29:05 PM

ISLANDS OF BORNEO > Sabah Islands > Pulau Banggi


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Pulau Banggi

The Biggest Island of Malaysia

The biggest island of Sabah is  Banggi Island located at the north of Kudat Town (area of 440.7 square kilometers)

This island is also the largest island in Malaysia followed by Betruit Island, Langkawi Island and Penang Island. Village people on this island are mostly fishermen and farmers who live a tranquil and simple lifestyle.

Pulau Banggi is an island located North East off Kudat town.

To get there, you will have to board a ferry at Kudat for the island.

There are 15 villages on this island and the natives are called Bonggi People. The Orang Sama are also found here and are known as Sea Gypsies or Sea Bajau. Population of 14,000 (2000). Live here is very basic, no television, no internet and no hand phones. Water is mostly from wells.

Seaweed farming is initiative by the University of Malaysia at Sabah (UMS). This is the region where Pacific and Indian Ocean biospheres meet. Most of the extensive coral reefs of the Banggi Region are still undamaged by the destructive fishing methods that have marred many reefs in Southeast Asia.

They exhibit the wide range of species diversity that Borneo is famous for.

Several species of marine algae can be seen here in the wild as well as on the seaweed farms developing in the region. The diverse population of corals support hundreds of species of colorful coral dwelling fish and invertebrates and are intermingled with several species of mollusks including giant clams. Octopus can also be found here. Sponges and crinoids are found intermingled with corals or near coral patches. Diving activity is year round in the Banggi Region and sea surface temperatures are generally in the range of 25-30°C. Average visibility is in the range of 10-15 meters. Sea temperatures are at their lowest between November and February.

As reported in the local papers, there is a proposal for "Tun Mustapha Marine Park" in 2005 and hopefully it will materialize by 2008.

In 2003 the Sabah government declared its intention to gazette the area as a marine park (Daily Express 2002). The proposed Tun Mustapha Marine Park will be a revolution for marine conservation and fisheries management in Sabah and Malaysia. This project aims to support the development of the park and, ultimately, restored fish populations and a healthy ecosystem to these globally important reefs.

At over 1 million hectares, Tun Mustapha Marine Park has the potential to be Southeast Asia’s largest marine park. As well as providing protection for coral reefs and mangrove forests, the waters are home to populations of endangered dugongs and sea turtles. The Balabac Straits, passing along the northern edge of the area, is a major migration route for marine mammals, fish and larvae between the South China Sea and the Sulu Sea. Within the three districts which encompass these waters (Kudat, Marudu, Pitas) thousands of fishermen make a living through substance and commercial fishing.

The proposal will improve the economic situation of the island's inhabitants and at the same time preserve and protect its pristine waters from the destructive practices of fish bombing and pollution from unregulated activities fuel and waste discharge into the sea by boat owners.

Local inhabitants would be incorporated into the management of the proposed park which will cover 1.03 million hectares making it the largest marine park in Sabah, Malaysia and the region. This park will comprises 50 islands, including Banggi, which at 440.07 sq km is also the largest island in Malaysia. Since the proposal, many research teams have conducted studies on marine life related topics and surveys undertaken in the area of the proposed park.

Among the proposed projects which required funding were:
• Continued inventory of marine and terrestrial biodiversity;
• Developing alternative livelihood opportunities for the local community such as seaweed cultivation and giant clam rearing;
• Surveys on migrating species
• Educational and awareness programmes as policies and regulations for the proposed park need to be understood and respected by the local people.

The Banggi Island region is the epi-centre of marine biodiversity in the world.

In 2006, under the Ninth Malaysia Plan (9MP), The State Government has also agreed for 4,500 hectares in Pulau Banggi to be developed by Felcra Berhad for commercial rubber plantation, whereby 1,000 hardcore poor will stand to benefit. Some RM153million has been approved to initiate the first phase of development, which when fully implemented would create jobs for 2,000 locals.


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