UK-UM Blue Communities partnership to support marine spatial planning in Tun Mustapha Park, Sabah

The Blue Communities project aims to exchange knowledge and experience between UK and Asia on integrated marine management and sustainable use of resources to improve health, well-being and livelihoods of coastal communities in the study areas. University of Malaya hosted the first meeting attended by participants from partnering countries.

This study focuses on Marine Park Management with a special interest on coastal communities within the park. The chosen study site is Tun Mustapha Park (TMP) in Sabah. TMP covers an area of 8988 km² north coast of Sabah, and is the largest marine park in Malaysia. TMP includes more than 75% of total coral reefs in Sabah. It is also a source of livelihood for more than 80,000 coastal communities with diverse ethnic groups. The marine park covers the Kudat- Banggi Priority Conservation Area in the rich Sulu-Sulawesi Marine Ecoregion. Only water bodies are presently gazette for protection. TMP is unique in the sense that it is not a completely no-take marine protected area. In addition, it is also the only non-Marine Biosphere Reserve study site under the Blue Communities project. The strategic Blue Communities project collaboration will positively impact and benefit TMP as well as provide transferable knowledge applicable for other protected areas in Malaysia.

Why Costal Communities?

Coastal communities are groups of people living near the coastal areas and who rely heavily on the marine ecosystems for their source of food, livelihoods and well-being. Approximately 70% of Southeast Asia’s population resides in coastal and marine areas. The high population density, coupled with pollution from land, urbanization, industrialization and climate change, places intense pressure on the marine environment. Given multiple (often conflicting) uses of the coastal ecosystems, informed marine spatial planning in collaboration with various stakeholders is important for a sustainable future.

In recognition of the importance of coastal communities and their dependence on healthy marine ecosystems, University of Malaya researchers have embarked a collaborative project with UK counterparts and regional partners from Southeast Asia universities.

The Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF) project in Brief

Funded by the Research Councils UK, this 4-years GCRF project, entitled ‘Building Capacity for Sustainable Interactions with Marine Ecosystems for Health, Wellbeing, Food and Livelihoods of Coastal Communities’, or simply known as the Blue Communities, is led by Plymouth Marine Laboratory UK (PML). The SEA partners include University of Malaya, Malaysia; Hanoi National University, Vietnam; Western Philippines University of the Philippines and The Center for Sustainable Energy and Resources Management Universitas Nasional (CSERM-UNAS), Indonesia.

The Blue Communities project aims to exchange knowledge, interest and experience between United Kingdom and Southeast Asia (Vietnam, Indonesia, the Philippines and Malaysia) to advice on integrated marine management and use of sustainable resources in order to improve health, well-being and livelihoods of coastal communities in the study region. The project will play a crucial role in shaping marine spatial planning which takes into account of coordinated decision-making among researchers from international partners, stakeholders and local non-governmental organisations (NGOs) to come up with a sustainable management plan for the region.

The Blue Communities team will work towards addressing the UN Sustainable Development Goals of 1: no poverty, 2: zero hunger, 3: good health and wellbeing and 14: life below water for the partner coastal communities through sustainable marine resources. The Malaysian team, led by Dr Goh Hong Ching from University of Malaya, will be ten out of the twelve overarching projects (except (iv) and (v))

(i) Evidence synthesis
(ii) Critical analysis of marine planning model applications
(iii) Synthesis of knowledge on current impacts on ecosystems and services
(iv) Marine renewable energy
(v) Small-scale coastal tuna fisheries management
(vi) Wellbeing benefits and risks of coastal living
(vii) Earth observation approaches
(viii) Probabilistic Graphical Models (PGMs)
(ix) Principles and approaches to decision making
(x) Future scenarios of changes in resources
(xi) Ecosystem level policy and management options
(xii) Systematic scenario planning

In January 2018, University of Malaya hosted the first Kick-Off meeting for the entire project at Berjaya Times Square Hotel for 3-days, attended by 54 participants from all partner countries (United Kingdom, Indonesia, Vietnam, the Philippines and Malaysia) as well as the advisory committee. Malaysian participants included researchers from University of Malaya (UM), Universiti Malaysia Sabah (UMS), research officers from Sabah Parks and the advisory committee member from Sabah Environmental Trust. This meeting gave an opportunity to allow all team members to meet in person and to discuss various aspects of the projects, including project details, expected milestones, communications, training needs and relevant issues and challenges. The team anticipate the strategic collaboration will positively impact and benefit TMP as well as provide transferable knowledge applicable in other protected areas in Malaysia and in Southeast Asia. The news about the meeting was featured in Plymouth Marine Laboratory website.

Contact information:

1. Dr. Goh Hong Ching (Principal Investigator)
Faculty of Built Environment, University of Malaya, 50603 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
Email: [email protected]

Dr Goh Hong Ching has research interest that evolved from city and eco-tourism planning to natural resource governance in urban and in protected areas. Furthermore, her recent research focuses on the value perceptions towards natural resources, forest and water. She is currently a member of the Global Young Academy and a fellow of the ASEAN Science Leadership Program, platforms where she promotes the efforts towards multi and interdisciplinary research.

2. Dr. Amy Then Yee Hui (Co-Principal Investigator)
Faculty of Science, University of Malaya, 50603 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
Email: [email protected]

Dr Amy Then is a fisheries scientist by training. She is keen to apply her quantitative training to study tropical fishery population dynamics which are often data deficient with little science-based management options. She is currently working on various projects including investigation of the Malaysian elasmobranch biology and fishery status, community- based mangrove fishery management, post-harvest recovery of mangrove ecosystem services and marine megafauna bycatch issues.

3. Prof Dr Fatimah Kari (Co-researcher)
Faculty of Economics, University of Malaya, 50603 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
Email: [email protected]

Prof Dr Fatimah Kari specializes in economics and has published many scholarly papers in the area of Environment and Poverty, Poverty Indexing and Environment and Growth. She is also a consultant for several consultancy project sponsored by the Ministry of Energy, Green Technology and Water (KeTTHA), Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment (MNRE) and others. She has also published in several index journals such as Energy Policy, Energy, Energy and Environment, Journal of Transportation, Social Indicators Research, Journal of Environmental and Journal of Development Studies.

4. Dr Julia Suhaimi (Co-researcher)
Department of Primary Care Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, University of Malaya, 50603 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
Email: [email protected]

Dr Julia Suhaimi is a Family Medicine Specialist at the Department of Primary Care Medicine clinic in University of Malaya Medical Centre. She has participated in several research projects such as Phase III randomized control trial for Influenza vaccine, a qualitative study on patient and parental perceptions about childhood asthma and its control and a qualitative study on unassisted home birth in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Besides this, she is also active in a community-based project to provide vulnerable teens in urban poor area in Selangor with skills to prevent gender-based violence (GBV) and teenage pregnancy.

5. Prof. Dr. Maznah Dahlui (Co-researcher)
Department of Social and Preventive Medicine, University of Malaya, 50603 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Email: [email protected]

Prof. Dr. Maznah Dahlui joined the team recently in April 2018 and she is a public health medicine specialist who works at Department of Social and Preventive Medicine. Her research interest extends to cancer screening, infectious diseases as such human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and Hepatitis C, adolescents health and obesity prevention. Additionally, she is interested to employ the economic evaluation approaches. She is also actively engaging in NGOs namely Breast Cancer Welfare Society and MAKNA along with the urban poor community and rural populations for screening of breast cancer and combating chronic diseases such as hypertension and diabetes.

6. Mr Affendi Yang Amri (Co-researcher)
Institute of Ocean and Earth Sciences (IOES), University of Malaya, 50603 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
Email: [email protected]

Mr Affendi Yang Amri, a Research Fellow in the Institute of Ocean and Earth Sciences (IOES), is a coral reef ecologist which focuses on reefs in tropical countries mainly in Malaysia and Australia. He represents Malaysia as the coordinator for the Global Coral Reef Monitoring Network (GCRMN) of the International Coral Reef Initiative (ICRI) and currently takes up role as scientific advisor for Reef Check Malaysia, a non-governmental organization (NGO) which works side by side with the Federal Marine Parks of Malaysia.

7. Mr Kamal Solhaimi Fadzil (Co-researcher)
Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, University of Malaya, 50603 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
Email: [email protected]

Mr Kamal Solhaimi Fadzil is a senior lecturer in the Department of Anthropology and Sociology. He works closely with indigenous minority communities, civil society groups, government agencies and international agencies by engaging with indigenous communities as stakeholders in sustainable development projects. He is also actively working on issues related to HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) prevention and recently co-produced a four part series titled Positive Lives with BFM, a local radio station in Malaysia which deliver experiences from HIV-infected patients.

8. Mr Muhammad Ali (Co-researcher)
Borneo Marine Research Institute, Universiti Malaysia Sabah (UMS), 88400 Kota Kinabalu, Sabah.
Email: [email protected]

Mr Muhammad Ali, a lecturer in Borneo Marine Research Institute (BMRI) in Universiti Malaysia Sabah (UMS), interest lie in the ecology of marine ecosystems and coastal zone management. He has been actively involved in several scientific surveys and assisted in the preparation of park management plan for state and federal agencies.

9. Ms Wan Nur Syazana Wan Mohamad Ariffin (Research assistant)
Faculty of Built Environment, University of Malaya, 50603 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
Email: [email protected]

10. Ms Sandra Liew (Research assistant)
Faculty of Science, University of Malaya, 50603 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
Email: [email protected]

Others researchers:

Dr Rahimatsah Amat, one of the Blue Communities Advisory committee member, is a wildlife ecologist who focuses on planning and management of protected areas in the Asian region. He works on habitat management for large mammals in Sabah and is also the founder of Sabah Environmental Trust.

Mdm Rimi Repin is the assistant director of Research and Education Division, Sabah Parks. She is interested vegetation on ultramafic outcrops in Sabah and has involved in many botanical related research projects in Sabah Parks. She is also the co- author of The Ultramafic Flora of Sabah: An Introduction to the Plant Diversity on Ultramafic Sails published in 2014.

Mr Nasrulhakim Maidin is a marine research officer from the Research and Education Division, Sabah Parks. He is involved with marine related field research for over a decade and has been actively engaging with various stakeholders and organizations. He is also a dive master and an eco-diver.

Published: 01 Aug 2018


Contact details:

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