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(file pix) World-renowned scuba diving spot, Sipadan, will be shut down for all sea activities throughout December, beginning next year. NSTP/Amirudin Sahib.

KOTA KINABALU: World-renowned scuba diving spot, Sipadan, will be shut down for all sea activities throughout December, beginning next year.

The directive from the Sabah Parks was made at the request of dive operators.

The move was to give a month-long recuperation period for the marine environment and ecology at the island, located in the Celebes sea.

Deputy Chief Minister cum Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Christina Liew, said Deember was picked as it is the low season in terms of divers’ arrival.

"The one-month temporary closure is to allow the coral and marine life to recuperate. The (dive) operators themselves suggested this and was agreed unanimously by all," she said today.

Liew said this when asked to clarify on a notice by Sabah Parks on the island closure, which was circulated on WhatsApp today.

On the current limit of visitors to Sipadan, Liew said a maximum of 156 divers were allowed per day while snorkelers were only allowed on special permits not more than 20 a day.

According to Sabah Parks notice dated July 31, the closure was proposed during the Ligitan and Sipadan Island Regulatory Joint Committee Meeting on Jan 25 this year and was agreed in the Sipadan Island Diving Quota Distribution Workshop on Feb 26.

Signed by Sabah Parks director Dr Jamili Nais, the notice states Sipadan Island will be closed for all snorkeling and scuba diving activities from Dec 1-31, 2020, to give way for period of recovery of the island marine environment.

Diving activity resumes Jan 1, 2021. It is learnt that the recuperation period will be enforced annually.

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