KOTA KINABALU: A research centre here aspires to educate more people to leave natural filter species alone for sustainable marine ecosystem.
Marine Ecology Research Centre (MERC) ambassador Lizio Godfrey Mosigil was referring to giant clams which play a role in filtering the system, just like mangrove forests and other similar species.
“If Giant Clams are missing from the system, it will leave some impact or different chain reactions.
“That is why the centre has put focus on propagating and putting back giant clams into the ocean,” he said.
MERC, which won Tourism Malaysia’s Most Innovative Tourist Attraction Eco-Tourism Conservation Award 2008-2009, has successfully produced seven species of Giant Clams at its centre.
Located at Gaya island, about 20 minutes boat ride from here, the centre has released almost 5,000 clams since 2012 within its vicinity and at islands under Sabah Parks.
Lizio said it was undeniable that clams might be harvested by locals or tourists snorkelling at those areas.
“Therefore, we are educating the locals, especially schoolchildren, at Pulau Gaya on the importance of the marine ecosystem.
“We let them know that their parents, who are mostly fishermen, could only earn a living from the sea to support their families,” he said, adding that the educational programmes would hopefully produce future leaders who were conscious about the environment.
Lizio also said the centre had offered a programme known as ”A day as a marine biologist” which would fund its conservation efforts.
The programme includes hands-on laboratory works such as culturing planktons, feeding giant clams and corals.
As for certified divers, they can take part in transferring corals and giant clams into the ocean.