Member Type Country



Ms. Izarenah binti Md. Repin
Senior Fisheries Officer
Fisheries Conservation and Protection Division

Malaysia, as one of the twelve mega biodiversity country in the world, places a lot of emphasis on conservation and sustainable utilization of her rich natural heritage. One important area of biodiversity conservation is the establishment of marine protected areas. Marine protected areas in Malaysia consists of four different types of marine protected areas; marine park, fisheries prohibited area, wildlife reserve and turtle sanctuary.

Malaysia’s Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) cover only a small fraction of the country’s Maritime Waters at an estimated area of 1.4%. Therefore, efforts are carry out to promote the establishment of more MPAs in line with the country’s obligation to Aichi Biodiversity Target under the Convention on Biological Diversity whereby, by 2020, Parties to the Convention has 10% of its coastal and marine areas, especially areas of particular importance for biodiversity and ecosystem services, are conserved through effectively and equitably managed, ecologically representative and well-connected systems of protected areas and other effective area-based conservation measures, and integrated into the wider landscapes and seascapes.

The different types of marine managed areas are due to the different objectives, namely biodiversity (which include fisheries), fisheries, turtle, and habitat management. All marine managed areas are governed by four management authorities under the federal or state government. There are five management authorities that manage the marine areas in Malaysia. The first two agencies are; Department of Fisheries under Ministry of Agriculture and Agro-based Industry (MoA) and Department of Marine Park Malaysia under the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment are responsible for management of marine areas in Peninsular Malaysia. The other managing agencies are Sarawak Forestry Department, Sabah Parks and Sabah Wildlife Department who are responsible for the management of marine protected areas in the state of Sarawak and in the state of Sabah, respectively.

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Background Information

Surface of Coral Reefs: 4006 km2Malaysia is part of the “Coral Triangle”, an area recognised by scientists to contain the world’s richest marine biodiversity. Coral diversity is highest in East Malaysia, estimated at over 550 species while Peninsular Malaysia has over 480 species of coral.

Malaysian coral reefs (live coral cover) is being monitored since 2007 using Reef Check Methodology. Prior to that, monitoring were done intermittenly using various diffferent coral reef monitoring methododoly. The average live coral cover (LCC) in Malaysia ranges from 42.57 to 52.3%, categorised as fair to good. In 2015, the LCC is 46.07%, a decrease from 2014 is likely to reflect the addition of new survey sites (total 208 sites) in 2015, rather than a decline in reef health.

There are many local threats to coral reefs in Malaysia which include destructive fishing, coastal development, pollution, sedimentation as well as physical impacts from tourism activities such as diving, snorkelling and boating.

Mass coral reef bleaching has emerged over recent years as a global threat; which is difficult to manage at the local level and has potentially devastating effects. The first significant mass coral reef bleaching event reported in Malaysia was in 1998, as a result of which, an estimated 40% of corals in reefs around Peninsular Malaysia died. Reefs had barely recovered before the 2010 mass coral reef bleaching event occurred, which fortunately saw lower coral death rates ranges from 5% to 10%. This is due to effective management of local threats to reduce stress and allows for natural recovery. Consequently, Malaysia through Department of Marine Park Malaysia has developed a Coral Reef Bleaching Response Plan, which aims to put in place a number of actions in response to coral bleaching related events.

Last Updated: 19 June 2024