PORT DICKSON, April 9, 2015:

A thorough study on the types of land-based development activities that contribute to the destruction of coral reefs in Blue Lagoon should be conducted, said a non-governmental organisation.

EcoKnights president Yasmin Rasyid said this was to minimise finger pointing without scientific evidence on what causes pollution in Port Dickson and the origin of the pollutants.

“This calls for strong coordination on the part of scientists, developers and communities to address the issues constructively,” Yasmin said when contacted by The Rakyat Post.

Expressing her sadness over how Port Dickson’s beauty had “withered” away due to uncontrolled unsustainable practices, the marine biology degree holder said there should be a more sustainable approach to coastal management.

“We have to look at more sustainable ways of coastal management.”

Last week, a coral expert had warned that the coral reefs in the area, specifically in Blue Lagoon and Tanjung Tuan, may be lost within 50 to 60 years should rampant development along the coastline continue.

A Tenaga Nasional Berhad (TNB) power plant station nearby was alleged to have been releasing water above room temperature, leading locals to express worry that this could affect the coral life.

Reef Check Malaysia (RCM) general manager Julian Hyde said the corals had ecological and biological value and should be protected from harm.

“Corals are very sensitive to water temperature.

“Most survive in a narrow band of 2-3 degrees Centigrade and if they are exposed to temperatures outside the normal range for extended periods, they will start to suffer from stress,” Hyde said.

Should the period of stress be prolonged — usually 4-8 weeks, depending on the species — then the corals may start to bleach and die, he added.

“If the temperature is extreme, for example, much higher than the usual narrow band, then the stress and bleaching will happen more quickly and the corals may die sooner.”

Though waters around PD were also negatively affected by high siltation from rivers and mangroves, as well as the pollution from the Straits of Malacca, Hyde said the area still had healthy and biologically diverse coral reefs.

“Even though people may not dive among them much — unlike the east coast islands — that doesn’t mean that they don’t have ecological or biological value.

“So they should be protected from harm.”

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