Public Education Environmental Awareness

Traditionally, one of the key roles which the Department of Fisheries plays in was in encouraging more people to exploit the fisheries resources of Sabah and by thus seek to maximise and exploit to the fullest the economic benefits accruing from the fisheries sector. Modern resource management regimes however warrant that fisheries management should be considered as one of many subsets of overall ecosystem marine management. Modern management accepts the reality that truly long-term maximisation of economic benefits from the marine environment can only be reaped if the various and sometimes conflicting uses of marine resources, living or otherwise, be addressed and integrated in an overall sustainable management regime. Thus, fishermen and the general public must be educated in the long term sustainable utilisation (fishing) of not only marine aquatic living resources but also, on the flip side, the future of fishing as an industry also depends on ensuring sustainable uses of the marine environment.

The task of fisheries public education is to introduce and seek awareness from and for the fishermen and also related target groups by means of class training, audiovisual, media’s, observations on the spot, exhibitions, extension work, dialogues and so on, so as to promote greater awareness, educate good practice of fishing and promote sustainable development of fishery production. The marine public education program by the Department of Fisheries in Sabah part of a national program organized and conducted by the Federal Fisheries Department, Universities and other government departments and agencies.

One of the major marine fisheries public education programs conducted so far and on-going is the Marine Education Kit program. Marine Education Kit The Marine Education Kit is a joint production of WWF Malaysia, the Department of Fisheries Malaysia and the Ministry of Education’s Curriculum Development Center. It was generously sponsored by the Canadian High Commission, Hong Kong Bank Malaysia Berhad and Prolink Development Sendirian Berhad. The first Marine Education Kit workshop conducted for Sabah was held in 1997 in Pulau Manukan and this progarm is on-going. It was jointly organized by Federal Fisheries Department, State Fisheries Department, Sabah Parks, University Malaysia Sabah and Federal Ministry of Education’s Curriculum Development Center.

The Marine Education Kit is an educational tool tailored to provide important knowledge, awareness and understanding on the importance of marine ecosystem within the primary and lower secondary school students. The final intention of this program is to disseminate and implant positive attitudes, responsibilities and long term commitment towards efforts of environment conservation more particularly marine ecosystem. The target group user of this educational kit are school teachers who will determine how they can inform and disseminate this important information by including it in their daily teachings through the school curriculum. The Marine Education kit materials are divided into 4 interesting units which include information, notes, facts, posters and indoor/outdoor activities on mangroves, coastal waters, reefs and the sea. A sample of each unit is as follows :