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CDNN: More trouble in Sipadan: Huge barge wipes out coral reef

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Sipadan coral reef before and after
Coral reef before and after a huge construction barge broke loose and slammed into Sipadan.

SIPADAN, Malaysia (16 May 2006) -- Once renowned as a pristine ecological gem of marine biodiversity in the Sulu Sea, Sipadan was nearly destroyed during the 1990s as the dive industry rushed in to exploit the tiny island as a major dive tourist destination.

Too many dive shops, too many resorts and too many divers pushed Sipadan to the brink of environmental collapse as sewage seeped into the island's ground water, garbage piled up everywhere and surrounding reefs turned to rubble under the impact of thousands and thousands of tourists.

Finally, in late 2004, authorities stepped in and evicted all Sipadan dive shop and resort owners who fought unsuccessfully to reverse the government eviction order and block efforts to protect the island from further damage.

Now the destruction of corals off Sipadan by a construction barge has exposed government schemes to build tourist facilities on the island.

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