The Establishment and Operation of a Regional System of Fisheries Refugia in the South China Sea and Gulf of Thailand (Refugia) is an initiative from United Nations Environment Programme (UN Environment) and Global Environment Facility (GEF) through SEAFDEC to manage and conserve important species and marine habitat in South-East Asian region. Fisheries Refugia is defined as “spatially and geographically defined, marine or coastal areas in which specific management measures are applied to sustain important species [fisheries resources] during critical stages of their life cycle, for their sustainable use” (UNEP, 2005).

This project is funded by GEF and implemented by UN Environment through regional collaboration by SEAFDEC and six other countries namely Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, The Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam.

This project started from 2017 and shall end on 2021. It is funded by EAFDEC/UN Environment/GEF and co-financing commitments which comprise member countries. Total allocation of USD 3.0 million has been approved by SEAFDEC/UN Environment/GEF in January 2016 to be distributed to the participating countries. Malaysia is expected to receive an allocation of USD 250,000 (RM 1.0 million) over a term of four years. Malaysia supports the implementation of this project at international level in the form of co-financing contribution with the existing budget from the Department of Fisheries Malaysia.

Malaysia’s participation in SEAFDEC/UN Environment/GEF projects since 2013 reflects the country’s commitment in supporting efforts at the regional level to ensure fishery resources are managed sustainably. A total of two (2) locations have been selected as refugia sites in Malaysia namely Tanjung Leman, Johor for Spiny Lobster species and Kuala Baram, Sarawak for Tiger Prawn species. This project involves several components such asthe establishment of committees at international level, scientific researches, consultation with stakeholders, educational programmes and so on.

Adult Prawn Tiger

Juvenile Research

The study involved 4 rivers near Kuala Baram, namely Sungai Pasu, Sungai Lutong, Sungai Sibuti and Sungai Bakam. Sg. Bakam is the latest river proposed for surveying the presence of juveniles. A research of juvenile tiger prawns in Sungai Lutong was conducted in June and August 2020.

Diversity Research at Sungai Pasu

  • The research was conducted in March 2019 unil August 2019, November 2019 and March 2020.
  • It was found that 37 species from 24 families of fish/prawn had been discovered at 8 research locations in Sungai Pasu:
    • for fish, 3 dominant fish observed were Kurtus indicus (31.19%), Coilia boerneensis (15.49 %) and Arothron stellatus (4.32 %),
    • while for prawn, Fenneropenaeus merguensis was the highest species found (10.64 %), followed by F. indicus (8.96 %) and Penaeus monodon (3.79 %)
  • Diversity index showed that March, 2020 recorded the highest value (20 species) and August 2019 showed the lowest (8 species)
  • Diversity Index of Shannon-Weiner, Simpson, Pielou and Margalef – in March 2019 was at it highest recordings of 2.54, 0.90, 0.86 and 3.73, while August 2019 showed the lowest at 1.28, 0.6, 0.62 and 1.75
Adult Spiny Lobster

In August, 2017, the research of Spiny Lobster Refugia site was located at 20 nautical miles from Tanjung Leman. The research aimed to uncover the potential lobster areas for migration and laying eggs. The activities of this research included:

  • Gathering information on Lobsters landing on fishermen’s jetty
  • Lobster larvae research based on the sea
  • Underwater Lobster Monitoring research

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