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WCMB 2023: PROMOTING SUSTAINABLE PRACTICES TO SAFEGUARD THE EARTH'S MARINE BIODIVERSITY

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GEORGETOWN, PENANG, 2 July 2023 - As a country endowed with an enormous amount of natural resources and a diverse range of marine species, Malaysia recognises the critical importance of protecting and preserving the vitality and wellbeing of our seas.

For the first time in Southeast Asia, the Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM) Centre for Marine and Coastal Studies (CEMACS), with strong support from the Penang State Government was chosen to host the 6th World Conference on Marine Biodiversity (WCMB) 2023, a prestigious international event that brings together scientists, researchers, policymakers and stakeholders from around the world in discussing and addressing critical issues relating to marine biodiversity.

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The primary objective of WCMB 2023 is to highlight the significance of marine biodiversity and the urgent need for its protection, whereby the conference showcases cutting-edge research, breakthrough discoveries and innovative approaches aimed at the understanding, managing and conserving marine ecosystems.

With the theme 'Marine Biodiversity in the Anthropocene', it is hoped that this conference could address and highlight these issues by carefully curating each themed session, and also supported by numerous relevant special sessions that would bring together the marine biodiversity science aimed at detecting and understanding sea life changes in every corner of the world, and unraveling mechanisms driving these changes, from the surface layer to the deep seafloor, the coastal zone to the pelagic and from the tropics through polar areas.

Held at Jen Hotel Penang, the opening ceremony was officiated by the Director-General of Higher Education, Ministry of Higher Education (MoHE) Malaysia, Professor Dr. Azlinda Azman.

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Azlinda in her officiating speech said that through this conference, it is hoped that there will be the move to gather and consolidate the research and efforts that have been initiated already in Malaysia, by giving a better visibility to the historic diversity of the sectors as well as trying to provide more impactful outcomes, especially in trying to help the society to understand and further develop their socio-economy as well as well-being so that it would be heading in the direction of higher education with regards to marine biodiversity.

“We also hope that full discussion and solutions can be achieved here in this auspicious conference with the exchange of views and ideas,” said Azlinda.

She also added by saying that it is hoped that this conference will help the MoHE to promote and sustain the marine biodiversity and that the marine biodiversity status can be embraced from time to time because of its paramount importance.

According to USM Vice-Chancellor Professor Dato’ Ir. Dr. Abdul Rahman Mohamed in his speech, CEMACS has played a pivotal role, by making a significant contribution towards the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) 14: Life Below Water, as the centre's research initiatives have focused on the conservation and sustainable use of marine resources, promoting responsible fishing practices, and safeguarding marine biodiversity. These efforts align perfectly with the core values of this conference.

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“I believe that the 6th WCMB will provide us with an extraordinary opportunity to engage in meaningful discussions, share experiences, and explore innovative solutions that address the urgent challenges and threats facing marine biodiversity,” he said.

Meanwhile, CEMACS Director who is also the WCMB 2023 Chairperson, Professor Dato’ Dr. Aileen Tan Shau Hwai said that this conference is more than just about research and presentations, as it is a call to action and a reminder that we hold the power to shape the future of our oceans.

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“WCMB in Penang marks a milestone in our collective commitment to marine biodiversity conservation. Let us seize this opportunity to learn from one another, inspire change and create a sustainable future for our oceans,” said Aileen Tan.

The conference will be held from the 2 to 5 July 2023 and over 400 participants from 50 countries will be involved in the conference. The conference would serve as a platform for the exchange of ideas and scientific discoveries, forge new collaborations, and most importantly, encourage the younger generation to be part of the solution to the global marine biodiversity crisis.

Also present were the President of International Association for Biological Oceanography (IABO), Dr. Enrique Montes; Consul-General, Consulate General of the People’s Republic of China in Penang, Zhou Youbin; USM Deputy Vice-Chancellor Research and Innovation, Professor Dr. Habibah A Wahab; as well as CEMACS Honorary Professor and WCMB Advisor who is also one of the conference keynote speakers, Professor Dr. Zulfigar Yasin. 

Text: Nur Farrah Ezlin Mohd Suhaimi/Photo: Mohd Fairus Md Isa

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