KUDAT: Sabah Chief Minister Datuk Seri Musa Aman launched Tun Mustapha Park (TMP), Malaysia's biggest marine park, here today.
The park, spanning approximately 898762.76 hectares, promises better marine protection and conservation in this part of the world.
It was declared a protected area under the Sabah Parks Enactment 1984 by Yang di-Pertua Negeri Sabah Tun Juhar on May 19.
Speaking to the local community and tourists, Musa said the success of the gazettement was part of the state government's efforts in advancing the people's socio-economy through various sectors.
"This is a historical event for us. With the establishment of this large marine park, Malaysia's commitment in the Convention of Biological Diversity, United Nations Environment Programme to protect at least 10 per cent of the marine and coastal area can be achieved by 2020."
Present at the launch of the TMP were State Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Seri Masidi Manjun and assistant minister Datuk Pang Yuk Ming, and State Special Tasks Minister Datuk Teo Chee Kang.
In 2003, the TMP was proposed by the Sabah government shortly after it was recognised as a globally-significant priority marine conservation area.
The marine park is located off the districts of Kudat, Kota Marudu and Pitas right up to the Balabac Strait.
It is also is situated within the Coral Triangle which is a six million sq km marine area that directly sustains and protects more than 120 million people in coastal communities across Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands, and Timor-Leste.
With its declaration, the size of protected marine parks in Sabah now stretches to about two million hectares along with the Tun Sakaran Marine Park and the Tunku Abdul Rahman Park.
Meanwhile, Masidi said the six marine parks under Sabah Parks would be part of a sanctuary in an effort to protect the shark population.
"We will start the initiative of the creation of a shark sanctuary by educating the people so they too have ownership of the programme.
"I must admit that one of the reasons why there seems to be an apparent failure in wildlife protection is perhaps we have not done enough to educate the village folks on conservation.
"I believe the people need to feel passionate enough to be part of the system; that is what we need to emphasise in the enforcement of the shark sanctuary in all marine parks in Sabah."