Make Singapore a coral haven

10% of reefs proposed as 'no-go zones' in Blue Plan
Marcel Lee Pereira, My Paper 10 Sep 08;

More protection and better management of Singapore's coral reefs could turn the island into a "coral paradise" in 10 years.

That is the gist of a proposal by a group of marine conservationists, which they plan to submit to the Government by early next year.

Mr Francis Lee, chairman of consultative group Marine Roundtable, shared some of the ideas with my paper last week.

He is overseeing Singapore's participation in the International Year of the Reef (IYOR) campaing this year. IYOR is held once a decade.

This "Blue Plan", the marine equivalent of the Singapore Green Plan -- a national blueprint for a sustainable environment -- will be the highlight of Singapore's IYOR celebrations.

Work on the "Blue Plan" started in the middle of this year, and the ideas build upon an earlier version submitted to the Government in 2001 through its Feedback Unit.

Part of the group's vision is that at least 10 per cent of Singapore's coral rees, mostly along the southern islands, should be turned into sanctuaries.

These could be categorised into "no-go zones", where access is granted for only scientific purposes. Other areas with limited access could be allowed, or opened under proper management.

Currently, areas such as the Chek Jawa Wetlands and Pulau Sekudu are protected by the National Parks Board (NParks), which monitors the area. Vessels entering these wetlands also need a permit from NParks.

However, more areas should be covered, including the southern islands such as Kusu Island and St. John's Island, as well as diving spot Pulau Hantu, and live-firing areas like Pulau Sudong and Pulau Senang, said Mr Lee.

He believes that other agencies, NGOs and companies should play a part too.

Environmental-impact studies are not consistently done for land reclamation and other projects, he said.

Hence, another proposal will be to have an independent agency to conduct such studies.

This agency must also be consulted by other agencies to ensure that the marine ecosystem is given a higher priority.

Singapore has not paid enough attention to marine conservation, added Mr Lee.

"Management of our seas has been limited to preventing pollution from factories and oil tankers, and I think we've done a wonderful job in that area, but no to in serving the marine ecosystem."

He added that the cost of such measures should be borne by the Government.

After all, coral reefs may be a valuable source of biomedical products and serve as educational and toursit draws.

He said" "The region has more than 2,500 fish species, and 500-600 species of hard corals, five times more than the Caribbean and 25 times more than the Mediterranean."

He added that SIngapore may well have half or more of this biodiversity. Common species found here include butterfly fish and brain and staghorn coral.

To beef up scientific knowledge About Singapore's marine biodiversity, the group is consolidating data from scientists, universities and institutes into a database, which will be used as an indication of its marine heritage.

Professor Chou Loke Ming of the National University of Singapore's department of biological sciences added that there have been "positive signals" such as the translocation of corals when a development is built upon the site of a reef.

He added: "Coral-reef conservation and restoration run over the long term. It's not just a one-off exercise: it has to be a sustained effort".

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

are any of these implemented yet???

and do u noe any implementations e govt have done in conserving our corals