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Proposed Protection Measures for Species and Habitats ‘at Risk’

Introduction

One of the main reasons why the TSMP was established was because of its exceptionally high biodiversity. The site is of regional, national and local importance, and conservation of biodiversity is a high priority.

The site supports a greater diversity of marine species than recorded elsewhere in Malaysia, with over 600 species of fish, at least 250 species of coral and 130 species of sponge. Marine and coastal habitats include mangroves, seagrass beds, lagoons, fringing, patch and bank reefs and open water.

If the conservation of these species and habitats is neglected then they may decline or even disappear. Decline or loss of species and habitats can have wide-ranging and long term biological/ecological impacts because of the many linkages within reef and island ecosystems.

There may also be economic and social impacts because of the way that people interact with, or are dependent on the ecosystems and their living communities of plants and animals.

Protection measures through the Zoning Plan

Under the Zoning Plan there will be areas set aside where removal of living and non-living resources is prohibited, and activities are carefully controlled to minimise environmental damage. These are the Conservation and Preservation Zones (No-take Zones).

Once these zones become operational, they should help to promote conservation of biodiversity within the TSMP and the recovery of over-exploited groups such as fish, sea-cucumbers and lobsters.

Striped sweetlips Plectorhynchus polytaenia © Elizabeth Wood
Striped sweetlips Plectorhynchus polytaenia © Elizabeth Wood

Protection measures through the resource use regulations

Fishing, harvesting and other types of resource use will be permitted in the General Use and Pelagic (Buffer) Zones, but will be regulated in order to try and prevent over-exploitation and habitat damage (for example from destructive fishing methods). Again, this will provide some overall measure of protection for species and habitats.

Proposed additional protection measures for species and habitats ‘at risk’.

In the context of the TSMP, the term ‘at risk’ is used to describe a species or habitat that is threatened with, or already in, decline, and that requires special conservation measures in addition to those afforded by the Zoning Plan and Resource Use Regulations.

The cause of the threat or decline might be fishing pressure, recreation, pollution, changes in water quality or many other factors, including climate change or naturally low populations.

Participants at the Community Workshops were asked to consider which species or habitats they felt were particularly important (for social, cultural or economic reasons) or at risk and should be the focus of special measures. These suggestions helped in the compilation of a recommended list of species and habitats requiring additional protection. Attention was also paid to the global and local conservation status of the species and habitats concerned.

Proposed regulations

A list of species and groups recommended for complete protection was prepared and divided into two – the first list containing those species proposed for protection as soon as the Park Schedules have been prepared and the second being deferred until awareness and education programmes have been carried out and alternative livelihoods developed.

List of species and groups proposed for immediate protection

Taxonomic group or species

Potential or existing threats within TSMP

Abundance/conservation status
Reason for listing

Reef corals. All scleractinians and other
species with a calcareous skeleton

Damage from fish blasting and other
destructive fishing methods.

Reef corals are globally
threatened and are listed in
Appendix II of CITES*. In
TSMP abundance varies
greatly. Hard corals play a
vital ecological role.

Sea fans, sea
whips, black
corals

In some
locations (not
in TSMP)
these species are
collected for
sale as
curios or to
make jewellery.

Black corals are listed in
Appendix II of CITES. In
TSMP abundance of these
groups varies with species,
but generally slow growing
and vulnerable to
damage/over-exploitation.

Nautilus species

Valued for
meat and
shell. Caught
with baited
traps in deep
water.

Insufficient known about
populations in TSMP. Risk
of over-exploitation.

Horseshoe crab Tachypleus tridentatus

Unknown

Rare. High value of live
specimens for visitor
interest.

Coconut crab
Birgus latro

Unknown

Rare. High value of live
specimens for visitor
interest.

Sea snakes
(all species)

Disturbance
to nesting
areas on the
islands.

Uncommon in TSMP. High
value of live specimens for
visitor interest.

Marine turtles (all species), including eggs Adult turtles are captured, usually accidentally, by being tangled in fishing gear. Eggs are collected. Globally threatened and occur only in low numbers in TSMP. Listed in Appendix II of CITES and in Schedule 2 of the Sabah Wildlife Conservation Enactment 1997.

Monitor lizard
(Varanus species)

Unknown, but
probably hunted.

Uncommon in TSMP. High
value of live specimens for
visitor interest. Listed in
Schedule 2 of the Sabah
Wildlife Conservation
Enactment 1997.

Otters (all
species)

Probably not
targeted for
food, but
vulnerable to
disturbance and habitat
loss.

Rare in TSMP, with only
localised populations.

Listed in Schedule 2 of the
Sabah Wildlife
Conservation Enactment
1997.

Dolphins

Targeted by
some fishermen

Seldom recorded in TSMP.
Listed in Schedule 2 of the
Sabah Wildlife
Conservation Enactment
1997.

Dugong

Not reported for TSMP, but
vulnerable to
fishing and
disturbance.

Globally threatened. Listed
in Schedule 1 of the Sabah
Wildlife Conservation
Enactment 1997.

All bat species

Unknown

Small populations in TSMP.
Valuable species for visitor interest.

All forest birds, including megapodes, hornbills and
swifts (except
where Native
Customary Rights apply)

Several species targeted for
food, plumage, eggs etc

Populations of many
species have been
reduced through hunting.
Most species of forest bird
are listed in Schedule 2 of
the Sabah Wildlife
Conservation Enactment
1997.

CITES: Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species. Listing on Appendix II means that international trade is monitored and that licences are required for all exports and imports.

Species listed in Schedule 1 of the Sabah Wildlife Conservation Enactment 1997 are completely protected. Those listed in Schedule 2 cannot be hunted.

 

An SIDP Awareness and Education Roadshow ran from January – April 2007 with the aim of informing communities about the Park regulations. Protected Species posters (Malay language version) were included in a package of materials that were widely distributed inside and outside the Park.

 

List of species and groups proposed for protection following awareness campaign and three months advance notification.

Taxonomic group or species

Potential or existing threats within TSMP.

Abundance/conservation status

Reason for listing

All species of giant clam (except broodstock for mariculture with permit)

Collection for food and for the shell.

Habitat damage is caused during collection of some species.

Globally threatened and listed in Appendix II of CITES. Tridacna gigas is virtually extinct locally. Populations of all other species, with the exception of the crocus clam (Tridacna crocea) is low or very low.

Giant triton

Charonia tritonis

Collected for its shell and meat.

Rare, with naturally low population in TSMP. Important ecological role in controlling populations of coral-eating crown-of-thorns starfish.

Cowries ( Cypraeaidae) & egg cowries (Ovulidae)

Collected for their shells (not food)

Reported to be ‘not easy to find’, probably as a result of over-collection.

Sharks (all species)

Targeted by fishers

Globally threatened. Badly over-exploited in TSMP. Large specimens are not seen; occasional small ones reported.

Manta ray, eagle ray (all species)

Targeted by fishers

Seldom seen in TSMP, possibly due to over-exploitation.

Seahorses (all species)

Collected for medicinal use

Globally threatened and listed in Appendix II of CITES. Status in TSMP uncertain, but restricted amount of suitable habitat

Napoleon or humphead wrasse Cheleinus undulatus

Targeted by fishers

Globally threatened and listed in Appendix II of CITES. Over-exploited in TSMP; large, mature individuals are rare and young fish uncommon.

 

Church reef shallow gardens © Elizabeth Wood
Church reef shallow gardens © Elizabeth Wood

Mangrove © Elizabeth Wood
Mangrove © Elizabeth Wood

Proposed list of marine habitats for special protection measures

Habitat

Recommended protection measures for TSMP

Coral habitat

No anchoring or other physical damage allowed; no structures to be erected which would damage or disturb the coral habitat.

Seagrass beds

No anchoring or other physical damage allowed; no structures to be erected which would damage or disturb the seagrass habitat.

Mangrove No removal or cutting of mangrove*
Forest No removal or cutting of forest vegetation*

Limestone and volcanic rock cliffs

No removal of rock or damage to rock faces.

* except by permit in accordance with Customary Rights.

 

 

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