I REFER to the letter by Ruziah Azdi Abd Rahman of Corporate Communications, ECER, “Setiu wetlands is a state park” (The Star, Jan 22).
Among the many beautiful ecotourism sites in the east coast, Setiu wetlands is unique, with both fresh water and marine species.
It is most disappointing to hear that a massive 1,000ha aquaculture development has been approved in Setiu, Terengganu for an integrated shrimp project.
This is in total disregard to the vital role of wetlands to human habitats and livelihood.
Aquaculture projects, as proven in Thailand and Indonesia, have destroyed much of the wetlands there especially mangroves.
It has led to environmental degradation, ecological damage and caused much pain to the socio-economic state of the local communities.
We must preserve these important ecosystems where Malaysian Nature Society (MNS) and WWF have done tremendous field and research work and accumulated valuable data and inventories to justify total protection.
These wetlands qualify to be designated as Ramsar (wetlands of international importance) sites by virtue of their distinctive habitats. Every nature lover in Malaysia was expecting this area to join Tasek Bera, Kinabatangan, Kuching wetlands, Tg Piai, Sg Pulai and Pulau Kukup as the seventh Ramsar site of Malaysia.
I sincerely believe ECER has a moral obligation to the people, especially to the local community and stakeholders to ensure that all areas under its purview protect the green habitats with sustainable and recognised approaches.
It is never too late to rectify a mistake and consult the experts in gazetting Setiu as a state park and Ramsar site, like what was done to the Pulau Kukup and Tg Piai Ramsar wetlands in Johor.
We don’t need more white elephants in Terengganu. We must learn from our past mistakes and recognise that wetlands are not wastelands but form one of the most productive ecosystems in the world.