The coral reefs in Teluk Malohom were once exploited for expensive fish by means of explosive and chemicals by irresponsible fishermen. As a result, the reefs suffered, damaged to the point of losing its role as a habitat for fish species. The Coral Reef Restoration Programme was created to restore the condition of the reefs, reviving this important fish habitat and encouraging fish population growth. This programme consists of two key segments.

Planting Hard Coral Fragments

Broken pieces of hard coral fragments are the result of strong waves and careless human activities. Left unattended, these coral fragments would most likely die. MERC divers collect the fragments, mostly from the genus Acropora and Porites, and bring them back to the research centre for preparation, stabilization and finally for re-planting around the surrounding reefs, where they are left to grow and monitored in a protected environment.

MERC has planted over 2,500 pieces of broken coral fragments since the start of the programme, registering a high survival rate of almost 90%. A successful example is the one tagged as A149 – planted and adopted by Mr. Huson Liang in early 2010. As a foster parent, Mr. Huson Liang received personal quarterly updates for a year, with growth statistics and pictures of his adopted coral. A149 grew in weight, height and width (from 305g to 464g, 6.1cm to 9.7cm, and 8.5cm to 13.2cm respectively), a rate any ‘parent’ would be proud of.

Creating Artificial Reefs

MERC introduced artificial reefs to bring fish back into Malohom Bay. These reefs are created from sunken old fishing vessels and metal structures that are supplied with mild electrical current. An electrolysis method under patent from Biorock is used, with expected results being accelerated growth rates of corals and tolerance to a wider range of water quality. While many other coastal tropical countries have constructed such electric bio-reefs, MERC is the first in Malaysia. Broken coral fragments are collected and attached to the two Biorock structures which have been installed and the growth monitored.