The production and sale of Virgin Coconut Oil as an alternative livelihood was introduced to Mantanani locals last year. Recently, Virgin Coconut Oil diversification training was given to the Mantanani Virgin Coconut Oil team to diversify their products. With the training, the team is now able to produce and sell lip balm, lip mask, soap, soap scrub, coconut biscuits, coconut oil for external use and edible coconut oil.
Our next step will be working on marketing strategies. It is hope that these products will gain traction and attract more buyers and as a result diversify income and reduce dependence on coral reefs.
Last week, Reef Check Malaysia together with Department of Fisheries Malaysia conducted 2 EcoDiver course sessions (Reef Check EcoDiver course trains recreational scuba divers to conduct Reef Check surveys) to train and certify 18 officers from the Association of Diplomatic and Administrative Officers, Malaysia. Upon completion of the course, they conducted 4 Reef Check surveys around Tioman Island to collect data needed to assess the health of coral reefs.
The decision taken by the association to undergo this program is very welcome and encouraging as members of this service is in charge of planning, formulating and implementing national policies. By taking the course, they are able to better understand the importance, threats and need to protect and conserve coral reefs. It is hoped that the exposure and knowledge that they gained will help them to better plan, formulate and implement national policies related to the environment and management of coral reefs in Malaysia.
Recently Tioman Development Authority and Alam Flora organised a one-off recycling buy-back programme called Trash to Cash on Tioman Island. The recycling buy-back programme was well received by Tioman communities. Many peoples on the island brought their recyclable items to the recycling buy-back centre, sold them and gained cash in return. Although there is an on-going recycling programme on Tioman Island which is run by Reef Check Malaysia, it is limited to glass, plastic bottles, aluminium cans and e-wastes due to limited resources and the distance of the island from mainland. The recent recycling buy-back programme included other recyclable items such as used cooking oils, papers, cardboards, irons, alloys, steels, leads and coppers. Reef Check Malaysia is going to approach Tioman Development Authority and Alam Flora and find way to turn this one-off recycling buy-back programme into a regular programme on the island.
Ghost nets are fishing nets that have been left or lost in the ocean by fishermen. They often get stuck on reefs which can damage corals and trap marine life such as shark, turtle and fish. Very often they cause death or injuries to the trapped marine life by restricting their movement, causing starvation, laceration and infection, and suffocation in those that need to return to the surface to breathe.
This year alone, more than 2 tonnes of ghost nets were removed from Tioman Island. If this is not done, the nets can continue to catch and trap its victims. Given the high-quality synthetics that are used today in making fishing nets, the destruction can continue for a long time. Therefore, it is imperative that these ghost nets are removed from the reefs as soon as possible every time after a report was received. The success of these efforts on Tioman Island was due to the collaboration between Reef Check Malaysia, Department of Fisheries Pahang, Tioman Marine Conservation Group and Tioman Dive Association.
Tioman Island is famous for marine-based activities, especially scuba diving and snorkelling. With increasing number of tourists to the island, this put pressure on the reefs. In an effort to reduce the pressure on Tioman reefs, we are working with Tioman locals to boost existing land-based activities. Tioman island has rich flora and fauna on its land counterpart, so it will be a waste if these are not appreciated.
Seven jungle trekking tracks, one from each village, were upgraded recently. Some of the works undertaken were removing fallen trees, clearing the path, replacing old ropes with new one, building steps using natural resources where necessary and establishing new look-out point where suitable. The difficulty levels, time to complete, unique floras and faunas usually encountered along the path and attractions such as waterfall and look-out points were recorded.
Our next step will be working on marketing strategies. It is hope that these often forgotten and unpopular attractions will gain traction and as a result diversify income and reduce dependence on coral reefs.
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