KOTA KINABALU: The Federal Government decision to establish the Eastern Sabah Security Command (ESSCOM) covering a coastline of some 1,400 kilometers from Kudat to Tawau could also benefit the yet-to-be-gazetted Tun Mustapha Park (TMP) located on the northern part of Sabah.
WWF-Sulu Sulawesi Marine Ecoregion-Malaysia manager Rebecca Jumin said she was elated when news of the implementation came out, as among the problems faced in efforts to conserve corals and fish at TMP were the high incidence of fish bombing.
“It is very difficult to regulate fish bombing activities because they (the fish bombers) come in kumpits (small Filipino boats) and can easily escape,” she explained. Fish bombing activities has been linked to reduced fish stocks in places within the TMP region.
She said the setting up of ESSCOM would boost environmental conservation efforts that are being carried out at TMP and thus put a stop to the high incidence of fish bombing within the region.
“I can see the benefit, especially in terms of stopping incidence of fish bombing. I hope it will really address the issue,” she said.
She also urged the ESSCOM to not concentrate only on issues related to protecting the sovereignty of the country, but also to look after the environment and more particularly, on fisheries food supplies.
“I would say having food security is as important as looking after the security of the people,” she stressed.
Meanwhile, Universiti Malaysia Sabah (UMS) school of business and economics lecturer, James Alin, said that the establishment of the ESSCOM would help in the maintenance and support of the TMP.
“Without the ESSCOM, it would be a bit difficult to look after TMP because the area concerned is very large. There is no use for us to have a park when there are no enforcement to look after the area,” he said.
TMP covers an area of 1.02 million hectares, consisting of more than 50 islands and islets and park supports 80,000 coastal inhabitants threatened by overfishing and destructive fishing practices.
James said, to make the TMP effective, there was a need to forge collaboration with Palawan (Philippines) so that the area could be managed together.
“We have already collaborated with them in the management of the Turtle Island. The joint collaboration has benefited both, although not many people know about it,” he said.
Source: Borneo Post