M’sia serious on Coral Initiative success
Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia — Malaysia is very serious in ensuring the success of the Coral Triangle Initiative involving Indonesia, Malaysia and Philippines.
Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Yahya Hussin said at the regional level Malaysia continues to work closely with neighbouring countries to ensure that the marine natural resources are conserved and protected for community well-being and future generations.
He said through the SSME - the tri-national regional conservation programme for the Sulu-Sulawesi Marine Eco-region - the State Agriculture and Food Industry Ministry has been pursuing sustainable fisheries management activities and efforts.
These include working out the adoption of ecosystem-based fisheries management approach, and community participation, as well as combating illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing (IUU).
"Several of these programmes are collaborative initiatives with our development partners," said Yahya, who is also Agriculture and Food Industry Minister, when opening the four-day Live Reef Fish Food Trade Regional Exchange Workshop at the Le Meridien, Tuesday.
His speech was read by Ministry's Permanent Secretary Datuk Haji Ujang Sulani.
In Sabah, Yahya said the State Government is fully committed to make the local aquaculture industry a sustainable one, including the culture of live reef fisheries.
The State Government had five years ago enacted the Shoreline Management Policy where all major economic activities using natural coastal and sea resources are adequately addressed, including aquaculture and fisheries.
He said aquaculture production of high-value coral reef species has been intensified in Sabah.
"However, at the same time, in the culture of marine fisheries in cages, as a matter of policy, we are pushing for operators to use feed pellets instead of trash fish.
"This way we hope the local industry will become less reliant on wild-caught fish as aquaculture feed," he said.
There are intensive efforts on research in coral and reef fish breeding and culture by the Department of Fisheries Sabah, the Borneo Marine Research Institute of Universiti Malaysia Sabah (UMS), as well as several private run hatcheries.
The Government has also started certifying prawn farms which are good enough, in terms of quality and safety, that adhere to international standards, to export to the European Union.
"The next step is to expand this certification to include environmental sustainability as a major criterion," he said, adding the Government has banned the export of live Napoleon Wrasse species starting this year.
"We are now looking at further steps, including the stopping of the exports of all Napoleon Wrasse, and in the future, the controlled exploitation of such fish from our seas," he said.
Although Sabah is among the biggest states in Malaysia to produce such important aquaculture produce as cultured live fish, seaweed and marine prawns it still wants such production to come from well-managed and sustainable aquaculture.
He hoped all CTI countries will continue to ensure live reef fish food trade is properly managed and buttressed by sustainable principles and practices.
The six CTI countries comprises Indonesia, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, Solomon Islands and Timor Leste.
Also attending are experts from the United States, Australia, Fiji, Netherlands and New Caledonia.
Professor Nor Ainie Haji Mokhtar, Under Secretary of the National Oceanography Secretariat, Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation, and Peter Coolier, the Programme Integrator of the United States Aid Agency (USAID) among others were also present.