Monday, 20 May 2019

Increased diving permits for Pulau Sipadan

Pulau Sipadan, the globally renowned diving destination, is going become more crowded.
Pic by NSTP/Email

KOTA KINABALU: Pulau Sipadan, the globally renowned diving destination, is going to become more crowded.

This is after Sabah Parks increased its daily diving permits from the 120 to 176 permits per day.

Despite the diving permit increase, Sabah Parks has however restricted diving activity to only three dives per diver (528 dives a day) as compared to the previous maximum four dives per diver (480 dives a day).

Taking into effect this month, the move is a temporary measure to see whether the additional number of permits and the increased number of divers would have a significant impact on Pulau Sipadan.

It is learnt that Universiti Malaysia Sabah will conduct a study on the ecological impact.

The interim measure is also aimed at understanding any shortcoming which would arise and make the necessary improvements on the protected island and its surroundings.

In 2004, the government announced the closure of all dive resorts at the premier scuba diving spot to minimise stress on Sipadan’s reef and marine life.

Two years later, at its reopening, Sabah Parks issued 120 permits per day which is to be divided among only 12 dive resorts in Sipadan.

Since then, there had been requests from various quarters to increase the daily permit.

However, there were also those who opposed the move to increase the dive permits.

Semporna Professional Divers Association chairman Abdul Razak Ismail said the 120 daily permits should be maintained as Sipadan is already crowded as it is.
“If the authorities allow more visitors to go to Sipadan, we are concerned that it (the island) would end up like Pulau Sibuan.

Sibuan was a beautiful island with minimal number of visitors but now it is crowded which has taken away the beauty of the island.

“So when there are too many divers, Sipadan will not be special any more. The crowd will surely affect its marine ecology,” he said, urging the authorities to conduct a thorough study prior to increasing the number of permits.

However, Pulau Bum-Bum based ND Divers welcomed the Sabah Parks’ move to increase daily permits.

They proposed that the authorities make it easier for visitors to make a complaint or suggestion.

“Anyone found doing things they are not supposed to can be reported. There should be complaint booth and Sipadan rangers around. This will help improve services and ensure the do’s and don’ts are complied with,” it said.
-nst online.

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