Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Good News And Great Relief To Pulau Payar Marine Park, Langkawi

This is a fantastic news to me. Unfortunately, many others may not share the same sentiment of joy as mine. The news is (drum roll please...) Pulau Payar Marine Park is now temporary closed due to excessive coral bleaching. <clap,clap,clap>

Pulau Payar has been abused for many years due to excessive carrying capacity and extreme heat condition. Every action must have a consequence. This time, the island cannot tolerate further and the consequences resulted to the closure of the park and thus affecting the revenue of the operators. 

Below is a letter issued by the Jabatan Taman Laut Negeri Kedah (Department of Marine Park Kedah) to all the operators to Pulau Payar.

Do allow me to translate... ahem..hemm..

1. Please be informed that the coral reef in Pulau Payar Marine Park is suffering from excessive coral bleaching at critical level. This was a result from the changes of the sea temperature.

2. As such, the Department is now taking action by closing the affected areas. The areas are Marine Park Center and Coral Garden. No activities are allowed in these areas. Alternatively, operators may use the areas in Pantai Damai, Pulau Kaca and Pulau Lembu.

3. Therefore, all operators must adhere to this regulation in order to preserve the biodiversity of the coral reef in Pulau Payar Marine Park Center. A stern action will be taken against any operators that failed to comply with this regulation.

4. This regulation is effective from the date of this letter (20th June 2010)

What more can I say? KUDOS to the Department of Marine Park Kedah for finally taking a stern action.

I am so glad to see this letter and felt like our effort in highlighting this issue to the Ministry of Natural Resources, EcoMalaysia.Org and MalaysiaKini had became fruitful. What surprised us was the Department of Marine Park Kedah called upon a meeting sometime in February 2010 with all the stake holders of Langkawi tourism industry to discuss on conservation of Pulau Payar Marine Park. Hey, M!! You should be happy too!

We are NOT against the operators to "cari makan" (earn a living) there. We just want the coral reef biodiversity to be conserved for a long long time and the need for responsible and ecological sense operators. Like what is happening now and because the reef is now spoiled, operators now "cari makan" less. 

Read more on coral bleaching:


  1. The bleaching event is widespread this year affecting more than half the reefs around Thailand and Peninsula Malaysia. The coral is bleached due to the persistent high water temperature (El Nino). As it's been persistent for over a month now, not sure how much of the reefs could survive.Closing the park is the only move to prevent further stress on the reef. Let's hope the reefs have developed some resistence from past bleaching events ...

  2. Hi Anonymous;
    Yes i agree with you. The huge factor to coral bleaching was the extreme high temperature the islanders had experienced during the dry season. The overcrowding of snorkelers, stirring up of sediments from ignorant tourists and water pollution from garbage in the Main area and Coral Garden had also contributed further to the stress of the corals.

    I am not sure how critical the coral condition it is now. Let's hope it will recover fast and the park should remained closed until their recovery is closely monitored.

    I just hope that the other areas like Pulau Kaca & Pulau Lembu will not be affected as well.

  3. Hi there: Thanks for the update. I have not been to Pulau Payar despite going to Langkawi for a few years now. I have never been tempted either because I think it is too commercialised and too overcrowded with tourists who think a day of fun is just jumping into the water without a care for the environment. I heard polystyrene food packs are also supplied by the tour operators who do the day trips. If it is, then I wonder where the food packs end up once the trip is done. But that's the catch-22 huh. On one end, we want people to appreciate nature at its best. But on the other, once it becomes TOO famous with too many visitors/tourists, it suffers. Sometimes when I am in Langkawi, I also wonder what happens to the rubbish on the island. All said, I think Langkawi's truly gorgeous. It would be a sad day too if the beauty's marred by unscrupulous tour operators (example, the eagle feeding activity that draws the Arabs and etc. during the peak season!).

  4. Great effort, congratulations!

    Did MNS Langkawi write to Malaysiakini, etc.

    Suggest a letter of thanks and appreciation be sent to the Press for what Dept of Marine Park Kedah has done.

    Keep it up!

  5. Great news indeed! Even if it is only temporary, it should make at least a bit of difference in the stress load on the marine environment at Pulau Payar. In fact, the Marine Parks should look into shutting down Pulau Payar for a certain period EVERY YEAR!

  6. Hi WChinner,

    That's great news indeed! Pulau Payar is an important breeding ground for many species including those vital to the North-western fisheries industry as well as the tourism economy. Many studies have suggested P. Payar's daily tourist numbers should be controlled similarly to the famous Pulau Sipadan.

    It is only rational for us to put its protection above everything else as everything else depends upon its survival!

    Tourists, please don't fret! Value your beautiful destination as much as it values your support for its continuation to bring you its best. It's survival depends upon your cooperation!

    Some more interesting info from:
    Yeo, B.H., The Recreational Benefits of Coral Reefs:
    A Case Study of Pulau Payar Marine Park, Kedah, Malaysia. WorldFish Center, Economic Valuation and Policy Priorities for Sustainable Management of Coral Reefs.

    J. Comley,D. Allen, A. Ramsay, I. Smith,

    Lee W. S., G. Chong, M. P. Abdullah, 2000. AN ACOUSTIC APPROACH TO
    PULAU PAYAR’S CORAL REEF. Bay of Bengal Programme for Fisheries Management. (ftp://ftp.fao.org/docrep/fao/007/ad919e/ad919e00.pdf)

  7. Hi Krista;
    Choosing the right operator can made a whole lot difference in your excursion experiences. When I was there, I went with the East Marine. They had plastic containers as lunch pack instead of polystyrene. So, that was good. I didn't opt for their lunch. As far as i can recall, we ask them what they would do with the containers and they told me that they would collect them & back to Kuah.

    Shark feeding is another issue and all the operators there practise this, sadly. A friend of mine told me how tourists were throwing in chickens, chicken/fish bone and even a piece of popiah (spring roll)!! Snorkelers were still in the water with the sharks scavenging on the "rubbish" thrown in. Can be risky. What if that inexperienced shark missed the food and bit the snorkeler instead? LOL.

    The Department of Marine Park must review the policy and tighten the regulation. This is not the first time that P.Payar suffered from coral bleaching.

    As for garbage on the island, the current dumpsite at Kisap will be replaced with an incinerator and is scheduled to start operating by end of this year. I am not sure if this is a good thing for langkawi but the current rubbish at the dumpsite are leaching out chemicals into the mangroves.

    Indeed Langkawi is amazing. That's why I am still here!! The unscrupulous operators are just small flies in marring its beauty. The major concern is the greed of some people here that are destroying the rainforest. If biodiversity on the island cannot be sustained, there goes the entire eco-tourism of Langkawi.

    Please help to sign our petition. The link is on right bar (top most). Every signature counts. Many thanks in advance, Krista.

  8. Hi James;
    Thank you. Also many thanks to Mandy who did more of the facts finding. Our appreciation to Yusri Yusuf (marine biologist) of UTM for providing us facts from his research paper on P.Payar.

    We highlighted the issue of the operation of the resort on P.Payar to MNS Langkawi. However, the response was below expectation. So for some reasons, Mandy and I decided to take our own initiative to write to the Star, NST, The Sun, Malaysiakini.

    Thankfully, Malaysiakini and Ecomalaysia.org helped us to publish our letter. Maybe we were not some Phd holders or marine biologists that the rest of the media ignored us.

    Thanks for your suggestion on the letter of thanks to the Dept of Marine Park Kedah. That's a good idea. We will do that.

  9. Hi Mandy;
    Yay! Gimme a 5! We could write a suggestion letter to them to do that.

    Hi JK;
    I think the operators will fret more than the tourists.

    Many thanks for those links. Will have a read.

  10. Any latest news on Pulau Payar conservation? All, pls check out http://ecomalaysia.org/articles/save-langat-south-forest-reserve.html - Langat South forest reserve needs your help :)

  11. Hi Dan,
    Apology for the very late reply as I just got the latest update on Pulau Payar Marine Park.

    I was told that it is now open but snorkelers are prohibited to wear fins.

    Yes, I responded to the Save-Langat-South-forest reserve campaign. Under the arms of MNS Selangor, i did make a phone call to the Menteri Besar of Selangor. But the outcome? Don't know.


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