Fishing villages need to care for environment

National 2 minutes, 30 seconds


PROMOTING environmental awareness is the central focus for fishing villages like Kg Sungai Matan to maintain their sustainable tourism development.

Kg Sg Matan Village Head Pg Hj Abdul Rahman Pg Hj Zainal said protecting the village’s natural environment is the key to ensuring that marine resources are preserved for use by future generations.

More environmental awareness is needed to attract local residents involved in the tourism industry, he said.

Speaking with The Brunei Times on the sidelines of the annual fishing competition organised Kg Sg Matan’s village consultative council (MPK) yesterday, Pg Hj Abdul Rahman said the lack of environmental awareness in the community will destroy Brunei’s ecotourism initiative in the eyes of tourists.

He said that educating the residents on the importance of protecting the environment from rubbish and litter has been the biggest challenge over the last 11 years since he was appointed as the village head in 2006.

“There are still people throwing rubbish into the water,” Pg Hj Abdul Rahman said, adding that the village’s current population is 427, a decline from 532 in 2015.

A number of residents have moved out to national housing schemes, he said.

There are over 30 houses in the village, Pg Hj Abdul Rahman said, adding that those residents living on water often complained about the piles of rubbish and litter underneath their houses.

Environmental issues like rubbish on water may pose a greater threat to the future of tourism, he said.

Although visitors from 77 different foreign countries have visited Kg Sungai Matan since it started its tourism promotion in 2011, Pg Hj Abdul Rahman said community involvement must be taken into account to maintain the number of tourists to the village.

“It has been a challenge for me and members of the MPK to educate the residents to understand the importance of protecting the environment. That’s why we have conducted a number of cleaning campaigns over the years,” he said.

Tourism activities like providing homestay programmes for tourists also present continuing challenges related to maintaining the local economic benefits of tourism, said Pg Hj Abdul Rahman.

The homestay programme launched in 2011 was no longer operating because the house owner decided to leave the house to his son-in-law, he said.

“But, we have seafood products that tourists like to buy such as dried prawns and fishes,” said the village head.

Kg Sungai Matan resident and home-based entrepreneur Hj Bakir Hj Bungsu said international tourists preferred to buy his famous dried prawns in bulk and this has become his source of income.

Hj Bakir said over 200 tourists would visit and purchase his dried seafood products once every two weeks.

Environmental sustainability is important for local home-based entrepreneurs as it helps sustain steady income, he said.

“The rubbish issue in water villages has been going on over many years. It needs to be addressed as soon as possible. Protecting the environment is important to make sure our fish resources would not be depleted in the coming years,” he said.

The Brunei Times