KOTA KINABALU, Sept 10 : Tourism players here hope the authorities will take action including carry out restoration work on corals off Kudat following damage caused by a stranded cargo ship.
The local cargo ship was stranded in Kalampunian Island waters on Sunday morning due to a faulty navigational device.
Bluefin Surf and Dive founder Ivan Tan said in a statement today that the incident had caused damage to the corals.
“It has made a new channel. I think they missed the dive site known as ‘Nemo Point’. But definitely it has caused damage to the adjacent corals, ” he said, adding that he and several other divers had gone to inspect the site yesterday (Sept 9).
Tan said he was shocked when on Sunday, he saw the ship in shallow waters when he brought guests for snorkeling at about 9 a.m.
He said a similar incident had occurred in the late 1970s or 1980s but this time the impact could be worse on corals and turtles.
“We are hoping that restoration work could be conducted in the affected area as those corals take between five and 10 years to grow, ” he said.
The island is part of the 898,762.76 hectare Tun Mustapha Park which has unique biodiversity that supports a series of complex and linked habitats.
The park is also home to endangered species such as green turtles and dugongs.
Kudat Turtle Conservation Society chairperson Sofia Johari said based on a study by Universiti Malaysia Sabah, the affected area is an important foraging area for the protected Green and Hawksbill sea turtles.
“The damage to the area could have severe impact on the sea turtles population in the area and those that originate from other areas in the region,” she said.
Previously, Kudat Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) zone director, Commander Boon Chin Chau, was quoted as saying a report had been received about the vessel encountering difficulty at 5.10 a.m while making its way to Kemaman, Terengganu, from Sandakan.