By Reef Check Malaysia
Reef Check Malaysia (RCM) believes in involving local communities in the management of marine resources. A study in 2014 by RCM, based on 100 interviews within the local community on Tioman Island, revealed that the vast majority of respondents showed an interest in working for the Department of Marine Parks (DMPM – now Department of Fisheries, Malaysia). Thus, the Tioman Marine Conservation Group (TMCG) was born.
Members of TMCG were given training that was designed to empower them to undertake a variety of tasks that would normally be the responsibility of the Department of Fisheries, Malaysia (DoF). This provides members an opportunity to participate in the management of the Tioman Marine Park.
Now, TMCG is to undertake the following tasks:
– Mooring Buoy Monitoring/Maintenance
– Reef Rehabilitation Monitoring/Maintenance
– Reef Check Monitoring Surveys
– Coral Bleaching Surveys
– Crown of Thorns Monitoring/Removal
– Reef Clean Ups
– Rapid Response
– Liaison with Tourism Operators
– Snorkel Guide Training
– Assist in Marine Park organized Programs
– Progress Reporting
Despite still being in its infancy in 2022, it has shown great potential, fostering good relationships between the local community, tourism operators as well as government agencies on the island.
The Global Biodiversity Framework has also reiterated the importance of empowering and including the indigenous people and local communities (IPLCs) in the management of protecting biodiversity.
Recognizing the importance of participatory management, Reef Check Malaysia has extended participatory management at four new islands: Redang, Perhentian, Mabul and Semporna. The success of TMCG has encouraged this expansion and TMCG’s framework will act as a blueprint in the effort to extend participatory management on these four new islands. The work is already underway and we hope for an effective collaboration.