In March 2003, the Government of Sabah announced its approval of the proposed Tun Mustapha Park (TMP), a marine area covering 1.02 million hectares in the northern part of Sabah. The marine protected area (MPA) was previously known as the Kudat-Banggi Priority Conservation Area, and is one of the priority areas identified under the Sulu-Sulawesi Marine Ecoregion (SSME) as being globally significant for its high biodiversity and rich natural resources. Geographically, the area is located within the Coral Triangle and is home to some of the richest marine flora and fauna complexes in the world (WWF-Malaysia, 2011).
This is a strategic project supported by the UNDP implemented GEF Small Grants Programme (SGP). The project is implemented by the World Wildlife Fund for Nature in Malaysia (WWF Malaysia) aiming to scale up interventions for marine biodiversity conservation in Tun Mustapha Park. The project includes the following four components for community based marine biodiversity conservation: 1) building capacity and empowering local communities and stakeholders to conduct patrolling and collaborative enforcement, 2) promoting environmental stewardship, 3) developing conservation enterprises linked to resource management, 4) building capacity for the implementation of an ecosystem approach to fisheries management. (WWF, 2014)
To promote capacity development and community empowerment, a series of community consultations have been undertaken. Community members have also received training in reef assessment and monitoring. To patrol the park, in order to enforce lawful use, the project collaborated with local government enforcement agencies and local communities in establishing regular joint patrolling activities. The project also hosted session to share the experiences and lessons learned by the community groups, and discussed strategies to ensure the sustainable management of the park. To promote environmental stewardship, the project focused on raising awareness among youth groups on the merits of sustainable marine management. In terms conservation enterprises, the communities decided to further develop sustainable sea cucumber production, mangrove conservation for ecotourism, and traditional natural farming as alternative livelihood activities. In fisheries management, the project has focused on capacity development for the implementation of an ecosystem approach to fisheries management. Training materials were developed and training was conducted with participants from the local communities.
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