Finalist

Student-driven Sustainability Project of the Year Award

MSU MyCoral – Eco Marine Project

Finalist of the Student-driven Sustainability Project of the Year Award

"Transforming Forest of the Sea, Enriching Marine Lives"


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Summary

This long-term project involved 230 MSU’s students in collaboration with Department of Fisheries Malaysia and Dorken Reef Resources. It first started in 2016 as a result of the findings by Reef Check Malaysia which indicate that living coral has been declining over the last 4 years. This tri-partite effort ensures sustainability of the project in the long term. This project is conducted by MSU as part of the University’s commitment to support the United Nation Sustainable Development Goals – Goal 17: Life Below Water.
Ten colonies of coral fragments were deployed at the initial stage. The lengths of their fragments were measured at every monitoring session. Since then, 10 frames were deployed in 2017, 10 frames in 2018 and 16 frames in 2019. The result showed positive progress on coral growth on the innovative coral frame.
Fish population survey conducted showed the increase in value in term of diversity and numbers. The area has become a habitat for coral reef fish where the damsel's fish are the most abundant. This is a positive sign since the coral that grows in the frame has created a new habitat for fishes as their shelter.
In 2019, using the new advanced MSU Eco-Reef Frame and new faviidae family coral species, it is envisaged that the coral population will be further enhanced at the chosen site. These frames and propagation methods can be replicated at any other areas in the world using appropriate coral and coral fragments that are suitable to the propagation chosen site.

Key People


Prof. Tan Sri Dr Mohd Shukri Ab Yajid
President
President Office,  Management & Science University



Associate Prof. Dr Indang Ariati Ariffin
Deputy Dean
International Medical School,  Management & Science University



Mohd Hairulnizam Ibrahim
Reseacher
International Medical School,  Management & Science University



Prof Dr Abdol Aki Khatibi
Senior Vice President
Post Graduate, Business & Social Science Cluster,  Management & Science University



Prof Dr Abdul Jalil Ghazali
Vice President Industrial Linkages & Entrepreneurship
Industrial Linkages & Entrepreneurship,  Management & Science University


Acknowledgements

We would like to acknowledge our collaborative partners from Dorken Reef Resources, Department of Fisheries Malaysia and all our researchers and students form our International Medical School who are involved in this project.

Images

Award 1

Award 2

Media Coverage

Coral Growth Condition

Coral Growth Rates

Coral Sites

Coral Frame Arrangement

Fish Assemblages

Frames Structure

Frame Placement

IMPACT STORY

Impacting lifes

The call for action to address the issue of deterioration in the living corals in Malaysia was triggered by the research conducted by Reef Check Malaysia which indicate that living coral has been declining over the last 4 years. Marine biodiversity is the rainforest of the sea. As the rainforest on the land is important for human survival, the rainforest of the sea is the lifeline of marine life. The biodiversity of marine life will have its ultimate impact on human survival. We live in a mutually dependent ecosystem. Thus, it is critical to the address the issues of life below water as espoused by the United Nation Sustainable Development Goals – Goal 17.

Corals are colonies of very small animals which may take hundreds of years to form their structures. They provide various benefits to the habitat of the sea and they act as a source of nutrient and sustainability for marine life. Thus, any deterioration in the coral colonies give significant impact to the sustainability of marine lives that are dependent them.

MyCoral Project focused on the reproduction and propagation of corals on artificial frame to provide a new ecosystem at Pulau Geluk, Terengganu. The location was chosen based on its strategic factor to assist in coral propagation where it has sufficient lighting, expedient temperature, suspended sediment and less human interference with nature. This project aimed to create a healthy ecosystem that can enrich the habitat and increase the fisheries resources while narrowing the gap between resources and demand.

LEARNINGS

Lessons learned

To ensure success of coral propagation and growth for the colony, one need to understand the various options for coral restoration. Coral restoration can be attained through both sexual and asexual mode of reproduction. Most of the restoration methods are based on asexual reproduction, since sexual reproduction requires complex natural recruitment and depending on multiple factors.

The restoration through transplantation involves important factors such as, site selection of donor reef site, species selection, substrate selection and deployment and transplantation of fragments. Importantly, the techniques must be cost effective and eco-friendly. In addition, success in coral restoration requires high professional skills in the transplantation techniques, knowledge and experience and intense care of the transplanted sites. Periodic monitoring study is needed to ensure the effectiveness of the program which include verification of coral fragment’s health, fish assemblages and coral frame’s maintenance.

To enhance the effectiveness of coral propagation, MSU continues to find innovative method using artificial coral frames to transplant the corals. From an initial hexagon tower shape coated with special substrate using Acropora SP coral species, we then introduced an enhanced rectangular version of the coral frames named MSU Eco-Reef Frame and new technique called coral macro-fragment using coral from the faviidae family were used. To minimise human interference with the coral colony, a collaborative effort with local authorities and government agencies is required. The coral propagation project area is a frequently sheltered area option for large ships escaping from the monsoon winds. Thus, their scouring effect the corals mortality.

FUTURE PLANS

What's coming?

Coral propagation is a long-term initiative. MSU will continue to find innovative methods in transplantation method and coral frame structures to further hasten the growth of the colonies. New coral species other than the Acropora SP and the faviidae family, which have been effective will be explored to provide the biodiversity at the colonies. Current studies indicate that the propagation has been successful through the increase presence of marine life within the area. We need to enhance collaborative efforts between academia, industries, government agencies and public on the importance of coral preservation and propagation. Marine biodiversity is the rainforest of the sea. It supports the ecosystem that is important to the survival of humankind. Awareness campaigns need to be intensified right from the early part of education.

The government has to play its role in protecting these coral reefs by turning it into protected marine parks. Controlled accessibility to the marine parks can be done to promote tourism, education and research which will allow a healthy co-existence of the marine rainforest with minimum human disturbances. As our commitment to United Nation Sustainable Development Goal – Goal 17: Life under water, MSU shall continue to invest and research into the coral propagation project to ensure that the colonies will reach a sustainable population. In addition, we will replicate the methodologies in other potential marine parks in the future. For effective monitoring in the future, the team is researching the application of Internet of Things (IoT) to enhance the propagation of the corals as well as to obtain deeper data for analytics on the coral reef eco-system.


KEY STATISTICS

4 years

Project duration

230

Students involved in the project

2

Strategic Partners

14

New fish species populating the new site

RM200,000

Research grant

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