‘Marine environment needs more protection’

National 2 minutes, 9 seconds

BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN

MORE effective environmental impact assessments (EIA) are needed to protect Brunei’s marine ecosystem from further damage, said the managing director of a diving company.

Steven Ng Teck Yong of Oceanic Quest Sdn Bhd said to promote marine conservation, efforts should be put towards preserving the coral reefs that Brunei have today.

“Right now, it is not about how we can build new reefs or cultivate corals, it is more of keeping what we have now from going extinct,” he said.

Speaking on this year’s World Oceans Day theme of ‘Healthy Oceans, Healthy Planet’, Ng said plastic does not pose a major threat in the preservation of Brunei’s coral reefs.

“There are two major concerns that we can probably do something about, those are land clearing and irresponsible fishing,” he said.

Ng added that land clearing and land reclamation cause sediments to flow out to the sea, which results in the suffocation of coral reefs.

More effective environment impact assessments should be made before any land clearings to minimise its impact towards the environment, specifically the waters of Brunei.

The managing director said marine habitats of dolphins, dugongs and otters have been “destroyed” as a result of a development project in Brunei.

“This is a major concern because for us (diving operators), to have seen the mammals there previously and gone now, it’s very bad,” he added.

Ng went on to say that irresponsible fishermen use their nets and make use of bombing and cyanide fishing that cause mass destruction of coral reefs.

He added that there should be stronger enforcement to prevent these activities from happening.

Julian Hyde, who established Reef Check Malaysia, a body that is dedicated towards the preservation of coral reefs, said in an email interview that coral reefs are a valuable resource.

“However, coral reefs are increasingly being damaged by both global threats such as global warming, and local threats such as pollution and sedimentation from land clearing,” he said.

Hyde said Brunei has already taken the first step in improving its marine conservation efforts by establishing marine protected areas (MPA).

“But much work remains to be done to make these effective in helping to better manage the country’s reefs,” he added.

World Oceans Day, which is observed every June 8, aims to address the impact of plastic pollution on the marine environment this year.

The United Nations said it is important to protect the ocean as it regulates the climate, feeds millions of people every year, produces oxygen, provides medicines and is home to an array of wildlife.

The Brunei Times