MERSING: Scuba divers must obtain prior approval and register themselves at the Mersing District Council before taking part in diving activities at Sultan Iskandar Marine Park here.
The Sultan of Johor Sultan Ibrahim Sultan Iskandar issued the decree today after launching the Coral Restoration Programme and signing the Malaysia Book of Records’ (MBOR) plaque for the Largest 1Malaysia Simultaneous Coral Reef Plantation Programme in Pulau Tinggi.
The ruler said divers should also make an effort to protect the marine life and rich coral reefs in the park.
"Much of the corals have been damaged due to boats anchoring improperly and flouting the regulations,"
"I will dive again (in Pulau Mentinggi) in two months to look at the progress of newly-restored coral reefs.
"Divers who are heading to the Sultan Iskandar Marine Park must register themselves at the Mersing District Council. You must not simply come from Singapore or anywhere else and go diving here," said Sultan Ibrahim.
He said divers must also ensure that areas they were conducting activities were covered by insurance.
"To the divers, before you go (diving) and whatever you do, you must look at whether there is any insurance (coverage). Safety is very important in this matter," he said.
The Largest 1Malaysia Simultaneous Coral Reef Plantation Programme was held in conjunction with the 10th anniversary of the Department of Marine Park Malaysia.
The programme was held simultaneously in eight marine parks nationwide with the other events held in Pulau Redang and Pulau Perhentian in Terengganu, Pulau Tioman in Pahang, Pulau Payar in Kedah and Labuan.
Sultan Ibrahim joined 42 scuba divers from various agencies to plant 1,200 coral seeds in an underwater polyvinyl chloride (PVC) frame in Pulau Mentinggi, which is part of Pulau Tinggi.
The entry into the MBOR was confirmed by Tenggaroh assemblyman K. Raven Kumar, who represented MBOR.
Also present were Department of Marine Park Malaysia's deputy director-general Ab Rahim Gor Yaman, Johor Health, Environment, Education and Information Committee chairman Datuk Ayub Rahmat, Mersing District Officer Ashari Kasnan and Johor Department of Marine Park Malaysia director Mohd Nizam Ismail.
So far, 13 islands in Mersing with sea areas covering 765.65 sq km have been gazetted as part of the Sultan Iskandar Marine Park. Another eight uninhabited islands around the area were waiting to be gazetted in a bid to expand the marine park.
Meanwhile, Ayub said the state government would ensure the park’s marine ecosystem, including its coral reefs were properly conserved and protected from encroachment of illegal fishermen.
“We will carry out enforcement with agencies such as the Department of Marine Park Malaysia, Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency, Fisheries Department and Johor National Park Corporation,” he said.
A statement from the Department of Marine Park Malaysia said that until Dec 2015, 32,498 nubbins or coral fragments were used in its coral restoration in the Sultan Iskandar Marine Park.