Call to Retain Wetlands

The Fish Site
by The Fish Site
16 February 2010, at 12:00am

MALAYSIA - Plans for a 1,000 hectare aquaculture develop-ment project on the east coast of Malaysia have come under fire.

An article in the New Straits Times, claims that the coastlines are a rich natural heritage and that the wetlands should be retained as a nature reserve.

"One of the many potential sites in the east coast is the Setiu Wetlands in Terengganu, which has both freshwater and marine species. The Setiu Wetlands supplies between 50 and 60 per cent of Peninsular Malaysia's grouper (Epinephelus spp) juveniles and oyster seeds," the article says.

"It is, therefore, most disappointing to hear that a 1,000ha aquaculture development project has been approved in Setiu for an integrated shrimp project. This is in total disregard to the vital role of the wetlands to human habitats and livelihoods. Aquaculture projects have destroyed much of the wetlands, especially mangroves, in Thailand and Indonesia. It has led to environmental degradation, ecological damage and caused much pain to the socio-economic position of the local communities. Malaysia must learn from it.

"We must preserve these important ecosystems where Malaysian Nature Society and World Wide Fund for Nature have done tremendous field and research work and accumulated valuable data as well as inventories to justify protection. The wetlands qualify to be designated as Ramsar (wetlands of international importance) sites by virtue of their distinctive habitats.

"Nature lovers are expecting this area to join Tasek Bera, Kinabatangan, Kuching wetlands, Tanjung Piai, Sungai Pulai and Pulau Kukup as the seventh Ramsar site in Malaysia."