The Marine Conservation Society (MCS) has been working with Sabah Parks on the ‘Semporna Islands Project’ (SIP) since 1998, with the aim of protecting the outstanding marine biodiversity in the Semporna area and ensuring a better future for the islands and reefs and the people who depend on them.
The first milestone was reached in 2004, with the establishment of the Tun Sakaran Marine Park. This is Malaysia’s largest marine park, situated off the southeast coast of Sabah and covering 340km2 of sea and coral reefs, 10km2 of land and 8 islands.
In 2005, project funding for a 3-year period was awarded through the UK Darwin Initiative* and much was done to develop conservation strategies and build community support for the Park. Darwin Initiative post-project funding awarded in 2009 is now enabling MCS to continue to work with Sabah Parks for a further 2-year period on ‘Capacity building to enhance Marine Protected Area effectiveness’. This current phase of SIDP is concentrating on enhancing understanding and awareness of marine biodiversity and the benefits of MPA management. We are also working with local communities to promote alternative livelihoods that will help take pressure off reef resources.
* The Darwin Initiative is a UK scheme which assists other countries safeguard their biodiversity through the funding of collaborative projects which draw on UK biodiversity expertise. It is administered by the UK Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.