PETALING JAYA- The business community in Langkawi is calling for authorities to impose a speed limit on tourist boats, which they say are responsible for destroying nearly a third of the mangroves there with the waves they churn up.
According to Langkawi Business Association deputy director Datuk Alexander Isaac, about 30% of mangroves have been lost in recent years, especially due to speeding boats and other fast-moving vessels.
“It is time for the authorities in Langkawi to step up enforcement and limit the speed for these boats to 5kph.
“Otherwise, Langkawi risks losing its Unesco Geopark status following the United Nations’ scheduled review next month,” he added.
Alexander said the banning of personal water craft from carrying out tours in the area could also help to stop further damage to the mangroves.
“The situation is bad. The whole problem here is because of the uncontrolled speeds which cause a significant amount of erosion of river banks.”
Langkawi is one of 100 geoparks in the world and in 2007, became the first in South-East Asia to be recognised by Unesco.
Unesco assessors will visit Malaysia next month to revalidate the status granted to Langkawi for the third consecutive four-year term soon.
On Saturday, Bernama reported Langkawi Development Authority chief executive officer Tan Sri Khalid Ramli voicing out his concern over the effects of fast-moving boats on the beaches and mangroves of Langkawi.
He said that LDA was serious about keeping its Unesco geopark status.
“Despite replanting mangroves in this area, all efforts would go to waste if there is no stringent enforcement,” said Alexander, who is also the owner of cruise services provider Tropical Charters Sdn Bhd.
He said awareness and education could also play a major role for future mangrove protection.
Tourism Malaysia chairman Wee Choo Keong said the authorities must not waste time to get cracking.
“The state authorities should pass laws to keep speeding boats up to 3km away from mangrove areas, or maintain a distance which is deemed sufficient to preserve the natural habitat.”