Malaysia – IYOR 2008 Launch
Malaysia is part of the “Coral Triangle”, the area of the world’s oceans recognized by scientists as having the highest biodiversity. Coral reefs therefore represent an economically important ecosystem and are the foundation of a significant percentage of the country’s tourist industry. There are some 3,600 km2 of reef around the country, including fringing reefs and offshore islands. Over 500 species of coral have been identified in Malaysian waters.
As 2008 is designated the International Year of the Reef (IYOR), the Malaysian Government, working with several NGOs involved in marine conservation, led an initiative to raise awareness among the public about coral reef ecosystems. With the slogan, “Our Reefs, Our Heritage, Our Responsibility”, this campaign is aimed at promoting the wonderful and valuable reefs found here in Malaysia and to remind the public of their responsibility in conserving them.
IYOR 2008 was officially launched by the Secretary-General of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, Datuk Suboh Mohd Yassin on February 23rd, during a photo exhibition of marine life, held in conjunction with the launch event. Maya Karin, an award-winning actress, singer and model, was appointed to be the goodwill ambassador for IYOR 2008 in Malaysia. She has been very active in the conservation efforts of several organizations in Malaysia. The main event during the launch was the signing of the International Declaration of Reef Rights by both Datuk Suboh and Maya Karin.
Several activities including children’s poster coloring, canvas mural coloring, Reef Check survey and quizzes were held throughout five days of the exhibition. The event managed to draw a large crowd, which provided a great opportunity to educate the public about the issues concerning coral reefs in this country. There are more programmes lined-up throughout the year, including beach clean-ups, poster painting and underwater photography competitions, Reef Check trainings and surveys, and coral reef camps with the island schools.
This effort by the Government and various NGOs will hopefully be a success in driving the message of coral reef protection across the nation by the end of the year. IYOR 2008 is also hoped to be the beginning of greater partnerships beyond IYOR 2008 to protect the coral reefs of Malaysia.
For more information about Reef Check Malaysia, contact Malaysia@reefcheck.org.
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