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Review on Coastal Marine Pollution in the West Coast of Peninsular Malaysia

Review on Coastal Marine Pollution in the West Coast of Peninsular Malaysia

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Published by Ismail Ishak

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Categories:Types, Reviews
Published by: Ismail Ishak on Sep 19, 2011
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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PhD/chap1 ver 2
1. GENERAL INTRODUCTION1.1 Marine Pollution in Malaysia
The west coast of Peninsular Malaysia plays a major role in the maritime trade of the country (Naidu, 1993). It is the hub for the major urban centres, industries and plantation. These population centres are estimated to account for at least 8.5 million (70%)of Malaysia’s 20 million population. The rivers, which run through most of theurban/industrial areas, are the main repository of domestic and industrial wastes, sewage,organic and inorganic loadings. Siltation from land-based sources, oil
grease fromshipping activities and other contaminants that result from man’s economic activities alsocontribute to the general pollution of the aquatic environment (Department of Environment, 1997). Choo
et al.
(1994) published an overall assessment of the state of thecoastal marine environment for the west coast of Peninsular Malaysia. The marine watersof the west coast of Peninsular Malaysia are considered to be most prone to land-based pollutants (Phang
et al.,
1991) since 75% of the population and 85% of industries areconcentrated there (Maheswaran and Godwin, 1988). Jaafar (1991) discussed themanagement issues related to the marine environment of the Strait of Malacca.
PhD/chap1 ver 2
The coastal marine environment of the west coast Peninsular Malaysia, which alsoforms the eastern portion of the Strait of Malacca, has been the main repository of bothland-based pollution and pollutants derived from shipping activities (Choo
et al.,
1994;MIMA, 1994). This portion of the Strait of Malacca, within Malaysian territorial waters,has also been traditionally the major fishing ground for Peninsular Malaysia, and as muchas 70% of capture fisheries come from these waters (Department of Fisheries Malaysia,1993). Landings of marine fish showed an increasing trend between 1970 and 1980, butthen declined until 1986. Although from 1986 onwards there was an increase in landings,this increase was attributed to the introduction of deep-sea or offshore fishing activity. Lui(1992) hypothesised that the fisheries resource within the inshore waters of the Strait of Malacca had reached its maximum level of exploitation. There was a steep decline in fishcatch per unit population from 1970 to 1990, which indicated that the fish resource was being exploited beyond its maximum sustainable yield (Sheppard, 1992). Overexploitationhas been suggested as one of the main reasons for the decline in fish resource. However,the role of mainly land-based pollution and destruction of natural habitats have beensuggested as other major factors responsible for the current decline in inshore fishresources (Sasekumar, 1980; Phang, 1990). It was also suggested that oil spills fromtankers and bilge from shipping operations contribute to pollution originating from the seaitself (Absil
et al.,
1987; Maheswaran and Godwin, 1988).
PhD/chap1 ver 2
The rivers that flow into the marine coastal waters inadvertently affect criticalmarine habitats such as mangroves, estuarine mudflats, seagrasses and coral reefs (Peters
et al.,
1997). Mangrove swamps on the west coast cover 103,000 ha and comprise morethan 90% of the total mangrove coverage for Peninsular Malaysia (Tang
et al.
, 1980). Themangrove habitat is a nursery ground for many marine organisms including severalcommercial species of fish and shrimps (Robertson and Duke, 1987). Mangrove detritusforms a sizeable portion of the food of several fish species (Thong and Sasekumar, 1984).
Sources of Pollutants
The Strait of Malacca is the second busiest sea-lane in the world. In 1994, it wasestimated that about 3000 vessels/day plied the maritime waters of the Strait of Malacca.This number did not include thousands of fisheries vessels navigating the waters. Rapidindustrialisation coupled with chemical-dependent modern agricultural activities have ledto increasing loading of xenobiotics and other contaminants to the coastal waters.Treatment and mitigating technologies currently in place have not been able to copeadequately with the rapid pace of industrialisation.Studies by Law
et al.
(1993) and Abdullah (1995) showed that the marine watersof the north-eastern part of the Strait of Malacca around the Langkawi Group of Islandswere contaminated with significant levels of toxic dissolved/dispersed hydrocarbons.Abdullah reported levels of hydrocarbon concentrations of 1.73-1.97 mg L
aroundLangkawi Island. Abdullah
et al.
(1996), detected in samples of coastal sediments lowconcentrations of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), breakdown by-products of  petroleum.

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