A Universiti Malaysia Sabah (UMS) reef expert has welcomed the one-month closure of popular Sipadan Island to give way for marine recovery effort. -- NSTP Archive

KOTA KINABALU: A Universiti Malaysia Sabah (UMS) reef expert has welcomed the one-month closure of popular Sipadan Island to give way for marine recovery effort.

Marine ecology lecturer Muhammad Ali Syed Hussein said the decision by Sabah Parks to temporarily close the island was a good start to reduce and remove stress from the coral reefs.

“As Sipadan is popular (for scuba diving activities), it would be

difficult to close it for a long period of time. A one-month closure is a good start.

“It will help control the quota (of divers) while ensuring the reefs are maintained in good condition,” he said.

The one-month closure of the renowned Sipadan will only begin in December next year.

The directive from Sabah Parks was made at the request of dive operators.

December was picked as it is the low season in terms of diver arrivals.

Ali believed that Sabah Parks was committed to ensuring the protection of corals and marine life, and the body had been monitoring reefs particularly

within the protected marine park.

The number of visitors to Sipadan is set at a maximum of 156 divers per day.

Snorkellers are allowed to go to Sipadan only if they have special

permits, and not more than 20 are allowed per day.

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