Scientific Expedition Of Coral Triangle

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A 52-day integrated scientific sailing expedition beginning next month will be Malaysia’s concrete contribution to the Coral Triangle Initiative (CTI) to maintain the health and productivity of the coral triangle which covers Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines, Papua New Guinea, Timor-Leste and the Solomon Islands.

Malaysian Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak announced here Friday that the Prime Scientific Sailing Expedition (PSSE) 2009 would be launched on June 15, and would involve the KD Perantau vessel.

The expedition would incorporate various oceanographic studies, including mapping of the marine flora and fauna such as coral reefs, marine mammals, fish and invertebrates that inhabit the Malaysian territory of the South China Sea and the Sulu-Sulawesi Sea, he said.

“The expedition is also to explore and discover, through the collection of intensified data by application of state-of-the art technologies in the field of physical, geological, chemical and biological oceanography,” he said in his speech at the CTI Summit, here.

Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono had earlier opened the first-ever CTI Summit, attended by all the six heads of government of the CTI member countries and scores of marine experts, scientists and marine conservation activists, at the Grand Kawanua International Convention Hall.

Najib said the PSSE was just one of the many ongoing CTI-related efforts being undertaken by Malaysia in managing its own maritime biodiversity, including areas in Malaysia covered under the CTI and expected to have significant positive impact on the Coral Triangle Area.

He said the PSSE was initiated by the Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation in collaboration with the Royal Malaysian Navy (RMN) through the National Hydrography Centre, the Centre of Excellence in Oceanography and the Marine Science Centre.

He said that due to the complexities and the rich and unique biodiversity in the Sulu-Sulawesi Sea, it had been made a priority in the research planning and implementation of the Ninth Malaysia Plan to conduct such an integrated expedition to ensure that a wealth set of marine databases and potential new discoveries could be established.

Najib said that coincidentally the Sulu-Sulawesi Sea was part of the designated areas in the Sulu-Sulawesi Seascape Programme which was a melting pot, and pointed out that conscientious efforts to innovate and regulate activities to minimise conflicts and disasters and stimulate economic activities as well as facilitate marine life conservation were of prime importance.

Towards that end, he said, smart partnerships and strategic alliances and cooperation between coastal communities, government agencies, non-governmental organisations and other related stakeholders at the national and regional level were of the highest priority.

While thanking Susilo and Indonesia for hosting the important and timely summit in the cooperative management of the triangle’s rich marine biodiversity in this region, he said Malaysia being a biodiversity rich nation had always taken various measures to conserve and sustainably utilise its rich biological resources.

“The National Policy on Biological Diversity launched in 1998 gives clear direction for the management of biodiversity in the country. Malaysia, as an active member of the Convention on Biological Diversity, has also played an important and leadership role in promoting and implementing the objective of the convention domestically, regionally as well at the international level,” he said.

He drew the attention of the participants to the fact that the Earth’s future lies in the ocean and recognised that strong evidence has been compiled to emphasise the need for urgent action to protect biodiversity in selected seabed habitats and marine areas in need of protection.