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The rivers that flow into the marine coastal waters inadvertently affect criticalmarine habitats such as mangroves, estuarine mudflats, seagrasses and coral reefs (Peters
1997). Mangrove swamps on the west coast cover 103,000 ha and comprise morethan 90% of the total mangrove coverage for Peninsular Malaysia (Tang
, 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
(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
(1996), detected in samples of coastal sediments lowconcentrations of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), breakdown by-products of petroleum.