It was recently reported that the Department of Marine Parks Malaysia (DMPM), which is under the Ministry of Water, Land and Natural Resources (KATS) may be placed under the Ministry of Agriculture and Agro Based Industries (MOA).
If indeed the home for DMPM is being reviewed, WWF-Malaysia views this as an opportunity to conduct a close review of the various marine biodiversity conservation, management and protection commitments as well as the review of existing legal, policy and institutional frameworks to ensure that the former are adequately addressed under the latter.
The proposed move of DMPM to DoFM (under MOA) suggests a possible recantation of the initial shift. This further suggests that the lines are not black and white and hence, in seeking to piece this puzzle, it is important to consider the following: what current and future needs does DMPM seek to address, what is the required enabling legal and institutional framework, and is there a right institutional fit? If not, what changes need to be made?
At present, at least three ministries; namely MOA, Ministry of Energy, Science, Technology, Environment and Climate Change – MESTECC, and KATS have independent or overlapping interests in marine parks. Hence, there does not seem to be a clear host at present and it is crucial that DMPM is not moved about as a chess piece but is instead seen as a crucial piece of a larger puzzle on the governance of marine resources in Malaysia.
A more comprehensive and integrated conservation and protection of marine environment, biodiversity and resources is required within and even beyond current marine protected areas.
We believe that it is absolutely pertinent to ensure necessary institutional and legal framework is put in place to facilitate effective marine park management and the stewardship of our oceans.
DR HENRY CHAN,