JOHOR BAHRU, 8 December 2014 – Universiti Teknologi Malaysia (UTM) will build artificial fish reefs to help increase the income of fishermen in the district of Mersing.

A total of 50 reefs will be built and dropped into the South China Sea in collaboration with the Johor State Malaysian Fisheries Department (JPM).

UTM Reef Project Coordinator, Dr Alice Sabrina Ismail said this project is a joint venture of three agencies, namely the Faculty of Built Environment (FAB), Department of Fisheries Malaysia and Southeast Asean Fisheries Development Centre (SEAFDEC).

Dr Alice was met after the opening ceremony of the Communal Engagement Workshop Towards Environmental Conservation and Sustainable Livelihood – A Collaboration between  UTM FAB, SEAFDEC, JPM and Kampung Ayer Papan community at the Faculty of Built Environment, Johor Bahru campus.

The one day workshop was held with an objective to provide exposure and knowledge to the community of fishermen in the Mersing area, particularly those living in Kampung Ayer Papan, about the needs and importance of having artificial fish reefs.

Also at the opening ceremony were Mersing District Officer, Tuan Hj. Nasir Abdul Salam, SEAFDEC Head of Research, Tuan Hj. Ahmad Ali and Village Head of Kampung Ayer Papan, Tuan Haji Mohd Asri Jaafar.

Dr. Alice said the project began in June 2013 in collaboration with UTM’s University Community Transformation Centre (UCTC).

“Based on a survey conducted on 200 Kampung Air Papan residents, most complained that the income of fishermen is heavily affected by several factors, namely, water pollution, unpredictable weather, limited fishing grounds and intrusions into the coastal areas,” she said.

Using information obtained through this questionnaire, the decision was made to build fish reefs which are prefabricated and modular in shape, at a fraction of the cost of normal man made reefs.

“The prototype created by UTM researchers which received technical advice from experts of relevant agencies, is more durable and can increase the earning of the area’s fishermen,” she said.

The overall cost of the project including the construction, lifting and placing the reefs into the sea is RM200, 000.00.

“We have successfully developed the reef concept but the lack of funds is our main obstacle now. Therefore I appeal to any individual or organization to provide assistance in the form of financial contributions to enable us to continue this noble goal, “she said.

From left : Mersing District Officer, Tuan Hj. Nasir Abdul Salam, Ayer Papan Village Head,  Tuan Hj. Mohd Asri Jaafar and UTM Fish Reef Project Coordinator, Dr. Alice Sabrina Ismail

From left : Mersing District Officer, Tuan Hj. Nasir Abdul Salam, Ayer Papan Village Head, Tuan Hj. Mohd Asri Jaafar and UTM Fish Reef Project Coordinator, Dr. Alice Sabrina Ismail