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Malacca Strait including Singapore and Johore Straits
Wong, P.P. (2000). Malacca Strait including Singapore and Johore Straits, in: Sheppard, C.R.C. (Ed.) Seas at the millennium: an environmental evaluation: 2. Regional chapters: The Indian Ocean to The Pacific. pp. 331-344
In: Sheppard, C.R.C. (Ed.) (2000). Seas at the millennium: an environmental evaluation: 2. Regional chapters: The Indian Ocean to The Pacific. Pergamon: Amsterdam. ISBN 0-08-043207-7. XXI, 920 pp., more

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  • Wong, P.P.

    The Malacca Strait extends about 430 nautical miles between Sumatra and Peninsular Malaysia and is contiguous with the Singapore Strait and the Johore Strait. All of these straits have extensive coastal areas with rich diverse ecosystems. As a drowned estuary of the Sunda Shelf, the region is one of the largest estuarine environments in Southeast Asia, characterized by soft-bottom habitats, mangrove swamps, peat swamp forests, seagrasses, and fringing corals reefs. Economic development in three littoral states of Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore has a marked impact on the habitats, coastal resources and water quality of the area. Along its coastal areas are a population of 11 million in Sumatra, 10 million in Malaysia, and 3 million in Singapore. The conversion of mangroves and peat swamp forest for other uses, especially on the Sumatran coast, has led to siltation, inundation and erosion along the coast, the destruction of habitats for fish nurseries, and an increase in the level of total suspended solids. Few mangrove areas are being exploited sustainably, and an inherent conflict exists between the use of mangroves to protect capture fisheries and for aquaculture. The vast soft-bottom habitats of the area offer a variety of demersal, pelagic and shrimp species. Overfishing, from as early as the mid-1970s, and conflicts between traditional and commercial fishermen are the major problems. Proper fisheries management cannot be carried out as stock assessment is not completed for all waters and species. In the meantime, several measures have been taken. These include better licensing, the control of trawling, management zones in Malaysia, and the use of marine parks to exclude fishing. However, there are still conflicts between commercial fishing, subsistence fishing and aquaculture. Within the straits, a major problem is the cross-boundary water quality issue. Pollution comes mainly from land-based sources (70%). Suspended sediments come from forest clearance and coastal landfill activities, while agriculture and domestic sewage are responsible for the high levels of coliforms. From 1986 to 199, 60% of samples from west Malaysia exceeded the proposed interim standard of 100 MPN/100 mI. From Indonesia, the discharged sewage from the population generates loadings of BOD, COD, total nitrogen and total phosphorus estimated at 167,000, 381000, 74,000 and 7000 tonnes per year, respectively. In the Johore Strait, both Johore and Singapore have implemented a joint plan for cleaning up the strait by 2006. Oil pollution is related to the high shipping traffic. In 1974-94 there were 17 major spills (>5000 barrels per spill) in the strait and its approaches. This is likely to increase as shipping traffic increases. The implementation of traffic separation schemes (TSS) and under keel clearance (UKC) in the Singapore Strait and its northern approach have been effective in reducing shipping accidents. Marine pollution in these straits is often seen in fish kills, algal blooms and paralytic shellfish poisoning. Hydrocarbons are one of the contributors. A less evident impact comes from tributyltin (TBT) antifoulant. In future, there will be more economic development on the west coast of Peninsular Malaysia and at both ends of the strait. The SIJORI growth triangle linking Singapore, Johore and Riau Province is at the southern end of the strait. It focuses on industries on Batam and a large integrated resort on the northern coast of Bintan, both islands lying just south of Singapore. Economic growth at the northern end of the strait is strongly tied to the IMT growth triangle linking North Sumatra and Aceh of Indonesia, five provinces of southern Thailand and four northern states of Malaysia. The area under natural habitats will decrease as economic activities expand. The protected areas remain limited and are at Pulau Weh in North Sumatra, four islands off Kedah and an area of wetlands at Kuala Selangor. This is not encouraged by the lack of sandy beaches which can put a premium on the need to keep the coastal waters clean for the growing tourism industry.

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