Tun Mustapha Park: Malaysia’s biggest, newest marine protected area

The new Tun Mustapha Park (TMP) is the country's largest marine protected area

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Tree Rock in the new Tun Mustapha Park (TMP) (Photo: WWF-Malaysia / Eric Madeja)

It took almost 13 years, but the Sabah State Government has finally established a brand new marine protected area (MPA).

Situated off the coast of northern Borneo, the Tun Mustapha Park (TMP) measures close to 1 million hectares in size and is home to over 250 species of hard coral and approximately 360 species of fish, dugongs, and green turtles. Issues like overfishing and pollution threaten TMP, and this initiative could not have come at a better time.

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Map of TMP (Photo: WWF-Malaysia)

“I am deeply gratified by the declaration of TMP. I congratulate the Sabah State Government, the Sabah Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Environment, and Sabah Parks for taking the bold steps in the gazettement of TMP, paving and leading the way for the implementation of an innovative marine protected area management in Sabah and Malaysia. WWF-Malaysia also congratulates the local communities within and around TMP who can now be proud of being part of this initiative,” says Executive Director and CEO of WWF-Malaysia, Dato’ Dr Dionysius Sharma.

The new MPA is set to be an IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) Category VI Park, which means sustainable uses are still permitted and local communities living in the vicinity can continue their activities within designated zones. The park’s productive fishing grounds support over 80,000 people in island and coastal communities, generating nearly 100 tonnes of fish catch on a daily basis.

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Co-founder and editor of GoodVis, Sam has been obsessed with scuba diving since 2011. When she’s not doing research on lesser-known dive destinations, ogling at new scuba gear, or taking pictures of fish underwater, she’s either writing or stuffing her face with awesome food (or doing both simultaneously).