KUCHING: The Luconia Shoals or Beting Patinggi Ali will be protected by the Sarawak Coast Guard (SCG), said Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg.
The Luconia Shoals are around 100km off the Sarawak coast, inside Malaysia’s Exclusive Economic Zone.
Gugusan Beting Patinggi Ali is one of the largest and least known reefs in the South China Sea. The shoals are claimed by Malaysia, China and Taiwan.
“Beting Patinggi Ali will be part of the area protected by SCG as it is included in Central Luconia, which has been gazetted as a national park. We will work with the Maritime Agency and the Navy.
“Today is a historic day for Sarawak as we have formed a line of defence to protect our sovereignty, particularly Sarawak shores which are under our jurisdiction.
“Our areas of operation are at our waters and gazetted marine parks which its enforcement is under the Wildlife Protection Ordinance 1998 and National Park and Nature Ordinance 1998,” he said here today.
Besides protecting the one million hectare Luconia Shoals national park, SCG will also protect national parks near Similajau, Tanjung Datu, Talang Satang, Miri-Sibu Coral reeves, Santubong, Limbang and Bruit.
“Our marine parks cover more than 1.2 million hectares and we will build five SCG bases – in Kuching, Tanjung Manis, Bintulu, Miri and Lawas under the 12th Malaysia Plan.
“SCG will be given basic training as well as training to navigate using the interceptor boats. The latter will be handled by the Marine Police.”
Abang Johari said at Luconia Shoals, a few marine creatures had been discovered and would be conserved – among them, the sperm whale (Physeter microcephalus) and common minke whale (Balaenoptera acutorostrata).
He said SCG, which currently has 65 personnel, was formed due to serious encroachment threats from foreign vessels, adding that the unit is equipped with top-of-the-line equipment.