Barber presents the certificate to Zaidi (third right), witnessed by Abang Johari (fourth right), Len Talif (fourth left), and others. — Photo by Office of the Premier of Sarawak

KUCHING (July 10): Sarawak’s reef ball project has received international recognition honouring the state’s outstanding achievement in building the world’s longest reef ball barrier reef stretching 746km.

Premier Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Abang Johari Tun Openg today witnessed the presentation of the special certificate and plaque by The Reef Ball Foundation of USA chairman Todd Ryan Barber to Ministry of Natural Resources and Urban Development permanent secretary Datu Zaidi Mahdi, who received on behalf of the state government.

Also present were Natural Resources and Urban Development Deputy Minister Datuk Len Talif Salleh; Sarawak Forestry Corporation (SFC) chief executive officer Zolkipli Mohamad Aton; deputy chief executive officer I Abang Arabi Abang Aimran; and head of Fauna Research & Conservation (Marine) Section James Bali; Pembinaan Tukun Bebola (Sarawak) Sdn Bhd chief executive officer Wilson Mapus; and Reef Innovations Inc president Larry D Beggs.

The esteemed recognition stands as a testament to the government’s visionary leadership and unwavering commitment to sustainable practices and the protection of Sarawak’s marine biodiversity.

Expressing profound gratitude for the recognition, Abang Johari reaffirmed the Sarawak government’s resolute dedication to environmental stewardship.

SFC in a statement said the Sarawak Reef Ball Project exemplifies the state’s proactive approach to marine conservation efforts and sustainable development, aligning seamlessly with the state government’s long-term vision outlined in the Post Covid-19 Development Strategy 2030.

As the implementing agency, it has been instrumental in spearheading initiatives to preserve marine life and responsibly manage Sarawak’s diverse marine ecosystems.

It said under the first phase of the Sarawak Reef Ball Project, a total of 16,800 reef balls were deployed from 2018 to 2022 using the same pattern along a 746km-stretch of zigzag lines in 717 clusters of 10 to 20 deployed reef balls in every 1km waypoint between eight and 20km from the shorelines.

“A total of 23,500 reef balls have been deployed in Sarawak waters from 1998 until 2022.

“The government’s unwavering support and the Premier’s visionary leadership have played a pivotal role in enabling SFC to successfully execute projects like the Sarawak Reef Ball Project, which has now set a global benchmark as the longest artificial reef project,” it said.

The allocation of RM70 million for Projek Rakyat Phase 1, along with an additional RM30 million for Phase 2 (2023-2027), further underscores the government’s dedication to this cause, it added.

The objectives of the project are to increase fishery resources, offer opportunity in marine based ecotourism such as scuba diving and sport fishing, as well as to develop coral mariculture pilot project as a new potential economic opportunity in Sarawak.

“The Sarawak government has consistently demonstrated a deep commitment to environmental sustainability and the conservation of natural resources. It has provided steadfast support to SFC in their tireless efforts to maintain marine ecosystems and protect coastal areas.”