Our ocean is the largest ecosystem on the planet, covering 71% of the earth’s surface area. It regulates our climate, produces half the oxygen we breathe, captures carbon in the air to mitigate global warming and is essential in driving the water cycle.
It is also home to a vast number of marine species. In Southeast Asia alone, about 75% of the world’s coral species, 6 of the 7 marine turtle species and at least 2,228 reef fish species can be found.
Populations of marine life have declined by nearly 50% between 1970 and 2012. This downward trend continues in the face of numerous threats caused by human activity, which include overfishing, pollution, coastal development, and climate change.
Southeast Asia is no different.
WWF-Singapore is devoted to conserving marine biodiversity, restoring habitats and collaborating with governments, organisations and communities to protect our oceans.
Nicknamed the ‘Amazon of the Seas’, the Coral Triangle is a global epicentre of marine biodiversity, encompassing six countries: Indonesia, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, Solomon Islands, and Timor-Leste. The area provides livelihoods to 130 million people through rich coastal marine resources.
Despite its importance to marine biodiversity, the Coral Triangle is under great threat. Marine pollution, unsustainable coastal development and deep seabed mining have resulted in an endangered ecology,
Due to overfishing and destructive fishing methods, an alarming decline in tuna and fishery stocks in the Coral Triangle is endangering not only its ecology but also threatening food and livelihood security for a growing population still plagued by poverty. Coupled with the increasing impacts of climate change, these threats to the Coral Triangle put both nature and people at risk.
With the intention of restoring and protecting the Coral Triangle, WWF-Singapore has a three-pronged approach focused on priority sites within the Sulu-Sulawesi seascape.
WWF-Singapore supports the identification and protection of priority marine areas in Malaysia. Twenty-four key Malaysia Important Marine and Coastal Areas covering approximately 12,052,032 hectares have already been identified by experts.
Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) are essential tools in the natural recovery and protection of our ocean and the vital services it provides. This includes Darvel Bay, which aims to be designated as a new MPA by 2023. WWF’s plans for Darvel Bay Park will offer vital economical benefits to local communities and society, while protecting important marine ecosystems. The park will also be managed within a multi-stakeholder environment, guided by an integrated management plan.
We intend to expand the Malaysian MPA, through the identification of more priority conservation areas and expanding existing MPAs in 2023.
Coastal communities and small-scale fishers have served as traditional stewards of coastal ecosystems for hundreds of years.
WWF-Singapore is working closely with communities to ensure their voices are heard and to build their capacity in conserving healthy coastal ecosystems. Our commitment in supporting communities to manage natural resources is the foundation of strengthening marine habitat protection.
WWF-Singapore supports the restoration of degraded coral and mangrove habitats across the Sulu-Sulawesi Seascape, namely Semporna, Malaysia and South Palawan, the Philippines.
Marine biodiversity is intricately linked to ecosystem health, which also contributes to the health of people and communities as a whole. Restoration is crucial in reversing the negative consequences of the already declining habitats.
Through a partnership with WWF Coral Triangle Programme and offices in the region, Coral reef and mangrove restoration in Sulu-Sulawesi is a priority in the next few years. By next year, 40 hectares of mangrove and 60 spider frames (a restoration method) will be rehabilitated in five different locations.
WWF-Singapore also aims to establish at least two community innovation and learning hubs on habit restoration in 2023.
The Singapore-Karimata Straits is a large marine ecoregion that includes both the waters around the Singapore Straits and the Western Indonesian Straits.
Identified globally as one of 50 bioclimatic units (BCUs) of coral reefs in the world that exhibits high resilience to climate change, this ecoregion covers a range of critical marine ecosystems with key marine species such as sea turtles, dugongs, sharks and rays.
While contributing to Singapore’s food supply, this area provides livelihoods to coastal communities and stakeholders.
These straits are still largely understudied, with more needed to be done to understand and therefore protect the eco-region.
WWF-Singapore aims to maintain its ecological health, strengthen food security and raise marine stewardship.
For the first time, WWF-Singapore and the National University of Singapore’s Tropical Marine Science Institute (TMSI, NUS) are working together to pilot the planting and restoration of light-limited reefs in the Southern Islands. Building upon past and existing efforts by the National Parks Board (NParks) and NUS, we also aim to expand citizen science programmes to support these efforts, and contribute to raising awareness on coral restoration and conservation.
Over the course of the next few years, WWF-Singapore will work closely with government and industry leaders to support marine biodiversity in the area. Through the support of socioeconomic baselines, development of MPA plans and building up local communities to prevent destructive practices.