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December 30, 2010

Dive permit quota to stay


KOTA KINABALU: Sabah will not increase its daily permits for diving at Sipadan island.

State Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Masidi Manjun said the move to maintain a 120 daily dive permit quota is to ensure preservation of Sipadan’s environment.

He said Sipadan, which is part of the Semporna marine area, was only recently endorsed as the richest marine bio-diversity spot on Earth by a team of top scientists, remained a favourite tourist spot with a waiting list that stretches up to seven months.

“If we do not protect and conserve our environment, the tourism industry will not be able to thrive because the environment is the asset for the tourism industry,” he said, in reiterating he state is taking the necessary steps to preserve its natural heritage.

Protected: Sipadan Island is one of the few islands in Malaysia where turtles share the reef with humans.

He said similar measures to preserve the environment was also taken for Mount Kinabalu where the number of climbers are limited to 192 a day.

“No matter how many visitors we have, we have to do something to prevent these flora and fauna from being affected,” he added.

He said the Sabah government would not be implementing any physical development at internationally renowned rainforest research center in the Danum Valley and also the bio-diversity rich Maliau Basin which is also known as the ‘Lost World’.

“Even the roads leading to Danum Valley which is not sealed, will not be repaired in order to slow down illegal hunters and poachers,” he said.

A recently-concluded 17-day Semporna Marine Ecological Expedition 2010 by a team scientists from Malaysia, United States and Holland discovered Semporna and its 49 islands had the highest marine bio-diversity in the world.



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