Sabah Parks director Dr Jamili Nais said the Tun Mustapha Marine Park was gazetted in May 2016 with objectives to preserve marine biodiversity, develop sustainable fisheries, and eradicate poverty. - NSTP/MALAI ROSMAH TUAH.

KUDAT: Sabah has initiated a Reef Fish Fishery Improvement Project (FIP) at Marudu Bay in the Tun Mustapha Marine Park to develop a sustainable fishing industry.

The FIP is among the key result areas (KRA) for fisheries management and protection of marine habitat through collaborative management under the 2017-2026 Tun Mustapha Park Integrated Management Plan.

Having been implemented in several other countries, including Indonesia, Vietnam, Thailand, the Philippines, Ecuador, United States and Australia, the project is the first to be carried out in Malaysia.

It will be managed by Sabah Parks, World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) -Malaysia and the Sabah Fisheries Department.

During the FIP launch here recently, WWF-Malaysia marine programme interim head Monique Sumampouw said the project was sparked due to issues of illegal fishing methods and encroachment of commercial fishermen in coastal areas.

“Such issues have brought a big impact on traditional fishermen, who only catch fish in areas close to their village.

“For them, reef fish are their major catch and fish such as Red Snapper and Grouper have high demand from buyers such as hotels and restaurants,” she said.

FIP she said was an effort involving government and non-government bodies, the fishing industry, the research industry and community, among others as they were stakeholders in fish conservation in these areas.

She said the project was recognised as one of the major fisheries conservation measures around the globe as it contained principles that included fishery stocks, environment, and fishery management.

“Over 40 countries are developing FIP and more than 150 projects are being implemented worldwide.

“Our neighboring countries such as Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam have FIPs covering coastal and deep-sea fishermen.

“In fact, some have been recognised as holders of the Marine Stewardship Council, which is the highest certification in the world that recognises sustainable fisheries based on established principles.

“I believe we can achieve such success with unwavering cooperation from all parties.”

She said a meeting was held in July to discuss the FIP action plan draft that consisted of four strategies — administration, institutional framework, research activity, and compliance.

Sabah Parks director Dr Jamili Nais said the Tun Mustapha Marine Park was gazetted in May 2016 with objectives to preserve marine biodiversity, develop sustainable fisheries, and eradicate poverty.

“To meet the objectives, Sabah Parks works with various agencies to prepare an integrated management plan, which consists of seven KRA.

“As a strategy under the KRA 1 (fisheries management) and KRA 2 (protection of marine habitat via collaborative management), FIP is the only fisheries project that will get various quarters within the marine park to be involved actively,” he said.

Jamili stressed that FIP was important as it helped fishermen in the Tun Mustapha Marine Park, especially along its coastal areas, to practise sustainable fishing and management.

The park is Malaysia’s biggest marine park, spanning approximately 898,763ha and promises better marine protection and conservation in this part of the world.

The marine park is located off the districts of Kudat, Kota Marudu and Pitas right up to the Balabac Strait.

It is situated within the Coral Triangle which is a 6 millionsq km marine area that directly sustains and protects more than 120 million people in coastal communities across Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines, Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands, and Timor-Leste.