SEMPORNA: The Sabah Parks (SP) will gazette two areas, namely, Pulau Mantanani Complex in Kota Belud and Darvel Bay in Lahad Datu as marine protected areas before 2023.
SP director Dr Jamili Nais said the move was in line with the SP sketch map whereby 10 of the waters of Sabah would have been gazetted by 2023.
As such, he said that currently, the 100,000 ha Darvel Bay encompassing 50 surrounding islands had the potential to be gazetted earlier.
‘’If we look at the current situation, in terms of timeline, the process has started and maybe (gazette) at the end of this year or early 2020, but most probably we gazette in the first quarter of 2020,’’ he said.
He said this when met after a programme to clear rubbish from the sea bottom and beaches of the Tun Sakaran Marine Park here.
Subsequently, Jamili said the Pulau Mantanani Complex would be gazetted in two years.
In a scientific expedition organised by the Sabah Foundation in February, researchers found numerous interesting and unique marine data in Darvel Bay, Lahad Datu which could be conserved and used for international tourism.
Among the findings were several iconic diving sites including blue holes (underwater sinkholes) and marine resources such as wild turtles and healthy corals.
Quoting a local news portal, the operator of a diving centre Pirate Divers Glen Hapirulla, who is a native of Lahad Datu and an experienced diver, said 55 diving sites had been explored including blue holes in the waters of Silam since 2009.
The Pulau Mantanani Complex is a resort area which is becoming increasingly popular as a diving recreational site among international tourists.