Marine Protected Areas are not a new concept for Malaysia. With a high concentration of biodiversity and islands supporting 1,687 square kilometers of reefs, Malaysia depends on the economic activity provided by fisheries. In the 1980s, areas around 22 islands were declared prohibited areas and later declared by law as marine parks.
Today, Malaysia's marine protected areas are spread over both Peninsular Malaysia and Malaysian Borneo, which comprises the states of Sabah and Sarawak. Depending on their location, these MPAs fall under different jurisdictions:
- In Peninsular Malaysia, the 42 marine parks are managed by the Marine Park Department of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment. These are mostly islands declared as marine parks and comprise both terrestrial and marine components.
- In Sabah, the five marine parks are under the Sabah Parks Enactment.The first marine park was established in 1974.Other marine protected area is Sugud Islands Marine Conservation Area(SIMCA). This is the first private managed marine conservation area in Malaysia managed by Reef Guardian.SIMCA was officially established in 2001 as a Category II conservation area under the IUCN Protected Area. The US CTI Support Program is also supporting the establishment of the proposed one million-hectare Tun Mustapha Park which home to endangered marine animals, such as green sea turtles and dugongs making it a strategic area for sustainable ecotourism. It is also source of livelihood for 80,000 coastal inhabitants of diverse ethnic groups.
- In Sarawak, three marine parks are gazetted under the National Park and Reserve Ordinance.
One of Malaysia's most famous parks is Sipadan, located in Sabah. It is the country's only oceanic island, and it formed over millennia as corals slowly covered an extinct volcano.Located in the Celebes Sea, it marks one of the world's richest spots for marine diversity.
Marine Area (km2)
MPA Area (km2)
Number of MPA
Coral Reef Area (km2)
Mangrove Area (km2)