TELUK BAHANG, 21 October 2019 – Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM) is among the nation’s premier research university, which aside from its academic programmes, gives emphasis on researches regarding knowledge creation as well as in supporting the process of nation-building.
It is with this realisation that USM has established a research facility known as the Centre for Marine and Coastal Studies (CEMACS), located within the vicinity of Penang National Park and located approximately 30 kilometres from the USM main campus in Gelugor.
The marine research facility, which turns 41, is the oldest in the country. It specialises in conducting research and training with regard to the conservation of marine biodiversity and ecosystem, coastal ecosystem, the ecosystem of coastal forests, ‘mariculture’ and the study of the ecology of marine mammals.
It houses not only an extensive collection of organic marine ‘treasures’ but also data of various kinds relating to the environment and biodiversity, such as effects of climate change on the marine and coastal ecosystems, corals and aquaculture activities, which are collected nationwide as well as on Penang Island.
It is also involved in organising awareness and conservation programmes on the marine ecosystem, fisheries and seagrass for the past 30 years.
Recently CEMACS welcomed a working visit by the Penang Chief Minister, Chow Kon Yeow and the State Exco for Tourism, Heritage, Culture and Arts Development, Yeoh Soon Hin.
Director of CEMACS, Professor Dato’ Dr. Aileen Tan Shau Hwai gave everyone a walk around tour of the centre, visiting the hatcheries and laboratories of crustacean, molluscs, phytoplankton, cockles, corals, seacucumber and seagrapes; the reference collection museum and the gardens surrounding CEMACS.
When met she said that, CEMACS is also utilising a long-term monitoring system to oversee the atmospheric, oceanic and forest conditions at the Penang National Park, with data which are accessible to the public and policymakers.
The Chief Minister has also expressed an interest of the State Government to work together with CEMACS, especially in the area of community empowerment through direct involvement in the aquaculture industry.
The State Government would also provide financial support for research whenever necessary. CEMACS has previously provided support and training to the coastal community in oyster farming, which has yielded great success.
The centre has also worked together with the Fisheries Department, Department of Environment and other related agencies in dealing with the death of fish at local aquaculture sites.
Said Aileen, “CEMACS, with its location facing the Malacca Straits, provides an ideal ‘natural laboratory’ setting or functions as a ‘living lab’ in forecasting future conditions of the marine environment in facing problems such as pollution and ocean acidification, which have already affected a number of marine life in a negative way”.
Aileen further said that, CEMACS is committed in serving the surrounding community and the country as an education and edutourism hub, focusing on Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics (STEAM) education.
Also present during the working visit were the USM Vice-Chancellor, Professor Dr. Faisal Rafiq Mahamd Adikan and marine biology expert, who is also an Honorary Professor at the USM School of Biological Sciences, Professor Dr. Zulfigar Yasin.
Text: Mazlan Hanafi Basharudin/Photo: Mohd Fairus Md Isa