11 September 2008

Make Singapore a coral haven

Singapore has done a good job in saving the coral reefs this year for the IYOR campaign. Singapore's coral reefs could turn the island into a "coral paradise" in 10 years with more protection and better management. At least 10% of Singapore's coral reefs, mostly along the southern islands, would 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 Seduku 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 Sedong and Pulau Senang, suggested Mr Francis Lee, chairman of consultative group Marine Roundtable. Singapore has not paid enough attention to marine conservation, added Mr Lee. "Management of our seas has been limited to prevent pollution from factories and oil tankers, and I think we've done a wonderful job in that area, but not so 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 tourists draws.
He said:"The region has more than 2,500 fish species, and 500 to 600 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 fond there includes butterfly fish, and brain and staghorn corals.
Professor Chou Loke Ming of the National University of Singapore's department of biological sciences said 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 sustained effort."
We wished that the rest of the world would make an effort in saving these ocean forests like Singapore.

adapted from: My Paper, Wednesday September 10, 2008