The Sulu-Sulawesi Marine Ecoregion (SSME) is a marine ‘wonderland’ that’s unmatched in the world.
The SSME is home to more than 500 species of coral, 300 species of algae, 1200 species of reef fish, 33 species of mangroves, 22 species of whales and dolphins, at least 16 of the world’s 52 species of sea snakes and 5 of the world’s 7 remaining species of sea turtles. The world famous whale shark, megamouth shark and dugong also call these waters home.
Covering an area of nearly 1 million square kilometres in the Indo-West Pacific including portions of Indonesia, Malaysia and Philippines, the SSME is also the economic base for the 35 million people living along its shores. Extraction of fishery resources (valued at RM3.8 billion) and tourism are the main economic generators providing livelihood and income to these people.
Sadly, few people seem to realize this grim truth. We forget that these oceans are our main suppliers of oxygen, water and food. Essentials of life which are being destroyed at an alarming rate.
We humans continue to pollute and destroy this life-sustaining habitat without second thought. The sea’s resources are grossly over-harvested, unsustainable coastal and off-shore developments continue unchecked, and destructive fishing methods are still very much in existence. With each passing day all this abuse takes its toll on the delicate balance of the interlinked ecosystem of this region.
Scientist have noted that since 1971, catch rates in coastal areas of the Straits of Malacca have declined 90% from their original levels. So how much longer should we wait before taking serious action to avert a catastrophe?
There are 35 million people dependant on these seas for their living. For the SSME programme to succeed in a big way, the mindsets of these people have to be changed. First, these people have to be reached. They have to be educated. Then, they have to be convinced. And finally, they have to be motivated to act. We honestly don’t have enough resources to do all this. Which is why we need your help.
Please help us save our oceans before it’s too late.