KOTA KINABALU, Malaysia — Marine scientists will carry out an expedition at the proposed Tun Mustapha Park in Kudat from today to study its marine biodiversity and ecology.
They will also look at the socioeconomic benefits of the marine ecosystems for communities.
The expedition, which will be on until Sept 26, will involve scientists from Malaysia, the Netherlands and Australia.
The marine park covers 1.02 million hectares with more than 50 islands and islets located across Kudat, Pitas and Kota Marudu districts in the Kudat-Banggi Priority Conservation Area. The area is a source of livelihood to 80,000 people living along the coast.
It has a unique biodiversity that supports a series of complex habitats as well as being home to endangered marine animals, such as green sea turtles and dugongs.
The proposed park produces the third largest volume of fishery products from coral reefs, bays and open waters in the state.
The expedition comes under the Coral Triangle Initiative-National Plan of Action to address the urgent threats facing the coastal and marine resources at the Indonesian-Philippines and the Far Southwestern Pacific regions.
It is being jointly led by Muhammad Ali Syed Hussein from Universiti Malaysia Sabah; Dr Bert Hoeksema from Naturalis Biodiversity Centre, the Netherlands, and Bobita Ahad from World Wildlife Fund Malaysia.
The expedition is jointly funded by the Malaysian-CTI (Mosti through the National Oceanography Directorate), United States Agency for International Development's Coral Triangle Support Partnership and WWF-Malaysia's supporters.
Science, Technology and Innovation Minister Datuk Seri Dr Maximus Ongkili is expected to launch the expedition in Kudat today.
Meanwhile, the preliminary results of the expedition will be announced at a press conference at UMS on Sept 27. Updates will be available at www.naturalis.nl and other social media network.