Malaysia's coasts and seas are endowed with a wealth of marine biodiversity, ecosystems, habitats and other natural resources. Together they provide for the economic and social needs of the population, serve as coastal protection systems, and generate revenue through tourism. The sustainable development of our coasts, seas and related resources is therefore a major priority of the Government. The Centre for Coastal and Marine Environment (CMER) aspires to contribute to ecologically sustainable ocean management through policy research, the provision of timely and appropriate inputs into policy-making and ocean coastal zone management, and marine-related educational activities.
The centre has undertaken research on various areas to promote the nation's coastal and marine environment sustainability. Amongst others, the centre's research has covered ecosystems protection, coastal and marine biodiversity conservation, marine pollution prevention, climate change adaptation, and green shipping. CMER's researchers also present their research findings at national and international forums; publish their research work; and organise conferences, seminars, and stakeholder meetings on coastal and marine environmental conservation and management. Acknowledging the importance of the oceans, the centre has also been celebrating World Oceans Day as its annual flagship event since 2010. The event serves as a platform for MIMA to play a key role in enhancing interest and awareness on the roles of oceans in human wellbeing through the various activities organised each year.
- Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment
- Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation
- Ministry of Agriculture and Agro-Based Industry Malaysia
- Ministry of Energy, Green Technology and Water
- Ministry of Transport
- Ministry of Tourism Malaysia
- National Oceanography Directorate
- Department of Environment Malaysia
- Department of Fisheries Malaysia
- Department of Irrigation and Drainage Malaysia
- Marine Department Malaysia
- Department of Marine Park Malaysia
- Sabah Parks
- Forestry Department
- Port authorities and operators
Thrust of Research
CMER's research thrusts are manifold and include among others:
- Sustainable Development of Marine Resources
- Coastal Zone Management
- Prevention of Marine Pollution
- Conservation of Coastal and Marine Biological Diversity
- Ecosystems Protection
- Adaptation to climate change
- Green shipping and port operations
- Renewable energy and green technology in the maritime sector
For 2012, CMER carried out the following research projects:
- Marine Biodiversity Conservation in Malaysia: A Review of Efforts under the Convention on Biological Diversity
- Assessing Estuary Management in Malaysia
- Integrated Coastal Management in Malaysia: Revitalising Efforts for Implementation
- Protection of Endangered Marine Mammal Species in Malaysia: Issues, Challenges and the Way Forward
- Potential Contribution of Environmental Performance to Port Competitiveness in Malaysia
- Use and Impacts of Tributyltin Based Antifouling Paints by Fishing Vessels in Malaysian Waters
- Study on Seagrass Conservation in Malaysia
- Coastal Blue Carbon: Exploring the Opportunities and Challenges for Malaysia
- Local Coastal Vulnerability Assessment by the Coral Triangle Initiative: Climate change Adaptation for Small Island Ecosystems in Sabah
* To view the description of the projects, please click HERE
For 2013, CMER carried out the following research projects:
- Protecting the Marine Environment and Coastal Ecosystems in the Straits of Malacca
- Sustainable Development of Living and Non-Living Marine Resources in the Straits of Malacca
- Fisheries Management in the South China Sea: Issues, Challenges and the Way Forward (Joint project with the Centre for Maritime Security and Diplomacy)
- Marine Environment Protection in the South China Sea: Malaysia's Perspective
- Adopting Marine Spatial Planning For Sea Use Management: Framework for Implementation in the Straits of Malacca
**To view the description of the projects, please click HERE
For 2014, CMER carried out the following research projects:
- Policy Recommendations for the Implementation of an Ecosystem Approach to Fisheries Management (EAFM) in Malaysia
- Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) Governance in Malaysia: Specifics, Challenges and Issues in Scaling Up to Effective MPA networks
- Malaysia and the Indian Ocean: Some Policy Options towards Reaping the Opportunities Presented
- National Climate Change Policy: Recommendations on Improving Response Strategies
- RAMSAR Wetlands Conservation in Malaysia: An Assessment and Policy Options for Improved Management
* To view the description of the projects, please click HERE
Cheryl Rita Kaur
BSc (Hons.) Marine Biology, University Malaysia Terengganu;
MSc Marine Science, Policy and Law
National Oceanography Centre Southampton, University of Southampton, UK.
Cheryl joined MIMA as a Researcher in March 2006 and has since then been active in marine environmental policy research. Her research interest is in the areas of marine pollution, marine protected areas management, natural resources, and marine tourism. Her research findings and views on coastal and marine environmental issues have appeared in various publications. Cheryl has also participated and presented papers in national and international conferences / seminars / workshops, besides organising events related to her research work at MIMA.
Cheryl has served at various positions within the Institute. She was appointed as the Head of the Centre for Coastal and Marine Environment (CMER) in March 2010, before she assumed additional responsibilities in the Centre for Straits of Malacca (CSOM) beginning April 2015, with a focus on concentrating on relevant matters under the portfolio of the Centre especially, but not limited to, developing expertise within CSOM on environmental aspects.
Nurul Ashikin Zakaria
BSc (Hons.) Marine Science, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM)
Mohamad Ismail b. Masran
BSc (Hons.) Marine Technology, University Teknologi Mara
Fauziah bt. Daud
Frequently Ask Question (FAQs) of Centre for Coastal and Marine Environment (CMER)
- How significant is the coastal and marine environment to Malaysia?
Malaysia's seas are among the most biologically diverse in the world, with a variety of ecosystems and natural resources important to the livelihood and sustenance of the people. The major ecosystems include coral reefs, mangroves, seagrasses, mudflats, and estuaries. In addition, fisheries are among the main components of natural resources in our waters. Besides fisheries, some of the other important activities related to the marine environment include shipping, oil and gas industry, tourism, mariculture, to name a few. Therefore, these marine and coastal ecosystems and resources, and their relationship with humans and human activities are important.
- What is the importance of the coastal and marine ecosystems to the environment?
The three main ecosystems found in Malaysia are coral reefs, mangrove forest, and segrasses.
- Among the main components of the coastal and marine environment, Malaysia's coral reefs are regarded to be of global significance. They contribute to marine tourism, shoreline protection, nursery and feeding grounds for fishes, and also as a potential source of medicine. Besides that, reefs also support marine biodiversity and sustain human activities such as fisheries.
- Mangrove forests are also very significant to the country, especially for shoreline protection, nursery and feeding grounds for fishes, coastal fisheries, timber and fuelwood production, as well as a potential source of medicine and ecotourism. It is also a habitat for local endangered species (i.e. proboscis monkey, flying foxes, dolphins, migratory shorebirds) and feeding and nursery grounds for commercial finfish and crustacean species.
The Matang Mangrove Forest located in Perak is an example of best-managed mangrove forest in the world. More than 100 years of management experience has focused on timber production, while taking into account other considerations such as conservation and protection of the mangrove and its environment sustainably.
- Seagrasses act as habitats and nursery grounds for recreationally and commercially important finfish and shellfish. Juvenile finfish that can be found in seagrass beds include snappers, croakers, grunts, groupers, etc. Other commercial species found include crabs, lobsters and shrimps.
Other functions of seagrasses ecosystem include stabilising bottom sediments, protecting coastlines against erosion, and recycling of nutrients
What are among the major issues facing the coastal and marine environment in Malaysia?
These can be categorised into several main groups as the following:
i) Population pressure in coastal areas
This includes threats to the coastal and marine resources, mainly in terms of conversion of coastal areas to various other uses, increase in human activities, and pollution sources.
ii) Ecosystems degradation
With focus on the coral reefs ecosystem, Status of Coral Reefs of the World 2008 reported a general decline in most monitoring sites in Malaysia in terms of coral cover. In addition, the Reefs at Risk in Southeast Asia project estimated over 85% of corals reefs in Malaysia are threatened, mainly from human activities.
As for mangrove forests in Malaysia, total areas reduced from 800,000 ha (early 1950s) to 695,000 ha (1973) and further reduced to about 575,180 ha (2005), representing a loss of about 28% in about 50 years. This was mainly attributed to land clearing activities for development projects. Nevertheless, the government through the 9th Malaysia Plan, allocated about RM40 million for the planting of mangrove trees at the suitable coastal areas in the country. In 2008, a total of 1,511,465 trees have been replanted, covering about 627.7 hectare of total land area at various coastal sites in Malaysia.
Seagrasses are currently not protected (except if located in protected areas). Major threat facing this ecosystem is sedimentation from the land areas, resulted from the coastal development activities.
iii) Marine pollution
This can be categorised into sources from land and the sea. The main land-based sources/components include total suspended solids, oil and grase, E. coli, heavy metals, and solid waste. On the other hand, sea-based sources include oil pollution mainly from vessels, ballast water, tributyltin pollution from ships' paints, to name a few.
iv) Decline in marine fisheries
In 2007, 50.2% (692,985 tonnes) of total landings of fisheries resources were from the Straits of Malacca. Landings from South China Sea in the East Coast region of Peninsular Malaysia contributed 24.3%, and waters of Sabah and Sarawak supplied 25.5% of the landings. Basically, the Catch per unit effort (CPUE) for Malaysia declined from 46 tonnes/vessel (2001) to 35 tonnes/vessel (2007). Among the main reasons for the decline in catch would include pollution, mangrove loss, and destructive fishing methods applied by the fishermen which destroy the natural habitats, to name a few.
v) Long term impact of climate change and sea level rise
The full impact on Malaysia is still being undetermined. However, several studies are currently being carried out to ascertain the impact of climate change and sea-level rise to the country.
What are among the management strategies in place to protect the coastal and marine environment in the country?
Various efforts have been undertaken which include initiatives in the areas of biodiversity conservation, coastal zone management, pollution prevention, and resource management. However, progress in improving the situation in the country would be gradual because of the pervasive nature of the problem.
What is the current legal arrangement for environmental conservation in the country?
There is no single law for environmental conservation. Principal law is the Fisheries Act 1985 which protect ecosystems and habitats, protect endangered species and manage resources. Other laws include Environmental Quality Act 1974, Wildlife Protection Act, National Forestry Act and other specific State enactments.
Accordingly, we have also ratified a number of international conventions on environmental protection and these include the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity 1982 (UNCBD), International Convention on the Trade in Endangered Species of World Flora and Fauna 1973 (CITES Convention), Convention on the Protection of Wetlands of International Importance especially for Waterfowl Habitat 1971 (RAMSAR Convention), International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships 1973 as amended by the Protocol of 1978 (MARPOL 73/78), and the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change 1992 (UNFCCC), to name a few.
What are the roles of the Centre for Coastal and Marine Environment (CMER)?
Malaysia's coasts and seas are endowed with a wealth of marine biodiversity, ecosystems, habitats, and resources. Together they provide essential goods and services such as fish and coastal protection. The sustainable development of our coasts, seas and related resources is therefore a priority.
CMER aspires to contribute to the ecologically sustainable coastal and marine environment management through policy research and the provision of timely and appropriate inputs into policy-making. Therefore, CMER's research thrusts are manifold and include among others:
The Centre also organisers events to advance Malaysia's environmental related interests. Its researchers speak at seminars, conferences, workshops, and also publish in various publications to disseminate information on their research work.
- State of the marine environment
- Sustainable development of marine resources
- Ecosystems protection
- Prevention of marine pollution
- Conservation of coastal and marine biological diversity
- Coastal zone management
- Environmentally friendly shipping activities