Abang Johari, sounding the air horn to launch the deployment of more than 1,000 artificial reef balls as part of Sarawak’s stepped-up measures to preserve its marine conservation efforts in the Sampadi-Tanjung Datu coastal waters in Sematan, about 116 km from Kuching, on Oct 26. Among those accompanying the chief minister are (from right) Tourism, Arts and Culture Minister Datuk Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah, Tanjong Datu assemblywoman Datuk Amar Jamilah Anu (partly hidden), Parti Pesaka Bumiputera Bersatu Tanjung Datu Youth chief Azizul Annuar Adenan and Sarawak Forestry Corporation deputy chief executive officer I Oswald Braken Tisen. Photo: Courtesy of PBB Tanjong Datu Service Centre

KUCHING: The artificial reef along Sarawak’s coastline from Tanjung Datu until Lawas is the longest in the world, said Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg.

He revealed this when officiating at the deployment of 1,100 artificial reef balls in the Sempadi-Tanjung Datu coastal waters at Kem Putra Sentosa in Sematan on Monday (Oct 26).

He said the reefs would protect and conserve marine ecosystems, create new eco-tourism sites as well as benefit the fishermen who would be able to enjoy abundant catches of fish. 

The reef ball project is undertaken by the state government.

“Although this project involves a huge cost of RM70 million, we proceeded with it,” the chief minister explained, adding the artificial reefs would increase the fish population, allow the growing of sea plants and provide food products from the oceans. 

“As a result of this project in the waters of Mukah and Belawai, the income of fishermen, who used to earn RM100 a day, has now increased to RM300 a day because the fish has increased and even attracted anglers to Mukah and Belawai.

“Similarly in Kuala Lawas, a village chief in Kampung Punang was able to catch three tonnes of fish … and that is why we deploy artificial reefs so that our fishermen’s income will increase,” he pointed out.

Abang Johari said the deployment of artificial reefs in the waters of Sampadi-Tanjung Datu would also have positive impacts on the surrounding areas such as Sematan, Lundu and Telok Melano.

“These areas will have great potential as fishing spots. Not only will locals come to fish but also anglers from Singapore and Indonesia,” he said.

“That is also why as part of our development for this area, we are building the dual carriageway after Siniawan Road; it will directly be connected to Pan Borneo Highway and eventually connects to Lundu and Sematan.

“Also, when the Rambungan bridge is completed, this road and bridge will be entry points for tourists. Therefore, I see the future of Lundu, Sematan and Telok Melano will be very bright. We will continue to develop these areas,” he said.

The chief minister added among the approaches taken by the state government were to protect the environment, marine conservation and focusing on green technology.

“We want to draft a new law so that we are able to claim for carbon credits and make them trading commodities.

“We will use technology to achieve an environment that is clean. When we have a clean environment, we will be recognised in the world,” said Abang Johari. Also present were Tourism, Arts and Culture Minister Datuk Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah, Assistant Minister of Urban Planning, Land Administration and Environment Datuk Len Talif Salleh, Tanjung Datu assemblywoman Datuk Amar Jamilah Anu and Sarawak Forest Corporation (SFC) deputy chief executive officer 1 Oswald Braken Tisen.