Blessed with rich waters surrounding the shores of Malaysia, it boasts breathtakingly beautiful and rich reefs, and Malaysia is fast becoming one of the leading dive destinations of the world. Be it the west coast or the east coast of Peninsula Malaysia, or the island atolls off coast of North Borneo, Malaysia’s dive sites offer rich, diverse and all-encompassing marine ecosystems.
Diving is certainly not a new activity in Malaysia. Some 25 years ago, pioneers in recreational diving were taking trips to then obscure and rarely visited islands such as Pulau Redang, Pulau Aur, Pulau Tenggol, Pulau Sipadan, just to name a few. Then, divers are mostly locals or expatriates from neighbouring countries ie Singapore and Brunei, wanting to get away from the hustle and bustle of city life. In 1989, Jacques Cousteau’s Ghost of the Sea Turtles, documented the breathtaking marine beauty of Pulau Sipadan. Overnight, Pulau Sipadan, by extension of Malaysia, elevated itself as one of the best dive destinations of the world, attracting divers from all over the world. Today, diving has become a significant revenue earner for the country. However, with so much diving activities in the area, there in deterioration in the marine ecosystems. Much concern has been raised over the years and legislations/regulations have been put in place to safeguard the marine treasures of the country.
In recent years, many companies have also pledge their involvement in the marine conservation. Below are some examples of these deeds:
- Reef Check Malaysia – annual beach and underwater cleaning and awareness programmes (annually at various locations
- IWC Schaffhausen, Tanjong Jara Resort, KPMG, Rip Curl, CIMB Foundation, Canon Marketing Malaysia – underwater and beach clean-up (Oct 1-3, 2010 @ Pulau Tenggol)
- Astro Malaysia - awareness and education of marine conservation (1-3 Oct, 2010 @ Pulau Mabul)
- Dell Malaysia – coral planting (April 8-10, 2011 @ Pulau Redang)
- KPMG – Rainforest to Reef Programme and Eco Diver Programme (annually since 2007)
- Panasonic Malaysia – coral planting and mapping (annually since 2005 @ Pulau Perhentian)
There are even dive resorts that organise annual event involving dive operators, non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and even government agencies, ie Mabul Marine Week (annually in July since 2007). Mabul Marine Week’s aim is to create awareness among divers and non-divers, fishermen and local communities on the importance of conserving and protecting the marine environment of Mabul.
While we enjoy the rich marine beauties offered by nature, conservation will act as a measure to preserve and maintain these treasures. Quoting Goris Verburg, General Manager of IWC Schaffhausen (South East Asia), “For the sustainability of our world, we need to take special care of our environment and society, because life is a give and take. With the beach and coral clean-up initiative, we want to make people aware of the fact that the ecosystem suffers form beign treated as a dumping ground. Awareness is important and the first step to change; therefore, the team up with different organisations on education of diving centres, the fishing industry, school children of the coastal region and government-related organizations.”