July 28, 2006

Reef Check Malaysia Receives Grant (Fishupdate.com, July 2006)

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Health check for Malaysia’s coral reefs

28 July, 2006 THE UK Government is providing £18,000 to support the establishment of a sustainable Reef Check Centre in Malaysia.

Announcing the funding during his visit to Malaysia, UK Biodiversity Minister, Barry Gardiner, said that the project will improve the availability of information on the status of Malaysian coral reefs and enable better management of marine ecosystems.

“Coral reefs represent an economically important ecosystem in Malaysia as the foundation of a significant percentage of the country’s tourist industry.

“Extensive coral reef survey data exist for Malaysia, however, most sites have been surveyed only once and much of the data is out of date and dispersed among numerous institutions.

“This lack of comprehensive and coherent data inhibits analysis of changes to reef health over time and a comprehensive monitoring programme is urgently required.

“Neighbouring countries such as Indonesia and the Philippines have been successful in establishing comprehensive Reef Check programmes, however, lack of funding and institutional weakness has prevented Reef Check from having a major impact on marine conservation in Malaysia.

“The project will address this gap and I’m pleased that the UK Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) has been able to commit the funding from our World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD) Implementation Fund in support of our WSSD commitments on biodiversity and the marine environment.”

Mr Gardiner said that Reef Check Malaysia will encourage the incorporation of marine conservation into policy development at national and local levels.

“The project will also raise public awareness of the issues facing coral reefs and importantly, it will involve a range of different people who have a vested interested in maintaining the health of these important ecosystems.”

Mr Gardiner is visiting China, Malaysia and Thailand focusing on the prevention of wildlife crime through local, regional, national and international cooperation, and the sustainable management of forests. Reef Check is an international volunteer programme that works in 70 countries to scientifically monitor, restore and maintain coral reef health. It has received international environmental awards for its work and is the UN’s official community-based reef monitoring programme. The Defra funding will cover August 2006 – July 2007.