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Vol 17, December 2018

Disposal of plastic-based solid waste into the oceans is causing the death of aquatic animals, particularly turtles and marine mammals, such as whales, dolphins and dugong. The effects of marine pollution is threatening smaller species of marine life, including fish and clams, which are among sources of protein in the human food chain.

Universiti Malaysia Terengganu (UMT) Institute for Oceanography and Environment lecturer, Dr. Mohd Uzair Rusli, said plastic waste usually drifted out into the sea, either in physical form or smaller particles called microplastic.This plastic-based waste was then consumed by aquatic life.

“If we look at the report from the Malaysian Marine Fisheries Mammals Network’s National Task Force, under the Fisheries Research Institute, we will find that most autopsy conducted on marine animals found plastic in their abdomen.“More worrying is the fact that the autopsies revealed plastics in physical form and not in microplastic conditions.“These plastics were found in the stomach of the animals, and it had caused their deaths,” he said when contacted by the New Straits Times Press recently.

Uzair, who is head of the UMT Turtle Research and Conservation Unit (SEATRU), said that drifting plastic presented a huge threat to turtles, which mistook them as food. “There marine animals (turtles) confuse the plastic with jellyfish, their food, and eat it.“From the records of death, we found that these marine animals will experience digestive system disorders and lose their appetite.“It also causes a lack of nutrition in their bodies and leads to their deaths.

“In addition, plastic impacts the marine animals’ respiratory system, especially turtles.“The plastic blocks their breathing and causes death via suffocation.”

Asked about whether this pollution could endanger newly-hatched turtles, Uzair said he did not rule out the possibility, but added that further research needed to be done on it.“The nature of turtles is that after they enter the sea, they will swim for two days without feeding.“After the two days, they will begin to search for seagrass, plankton and anything floating in the water, including possibly, the floating microplastic. ”He said that although there were no reports on the matter, there were scientists finding out if the microplastic could affect newly-hatched turtles.
“It’s just a challenge for us. Scientists do not know where these turtles are, because we classify the first two years in their lifespan as ‘lost years’.“As a start, my team has been using research funds from the Fundamental Research Grant Scheme to measure the amount of energy in the bodies of newly-hatched turtles.“This is to build a mathematical model involving sea currents to find areas where turtles gravitate to in its first two years.“This needs to be established before we can study the effect of plastic on turtles.”
He did not rule out the possibility that turtle hatchlings may be vulnerable to microplastic.

He said newly-hatched turtles had limited vision, and no scientist could say with certainty that these marine creatures used their sense of smell to distinguish their food.“The probability that these turtles eat micro-plastics is high because their underdeveloped body limits all their senses.”

He said his colleagues, who study marine pollution, had found that microplastic was also evident in corals and sea worms.“What we are worried about is that this pollution can affect the fish, which is a major source of protein for humans.“There is a hypothesis that shows that chemicals found in these micro-microorganisms can cause them to contaminate the tissues in the bodies of the fish that eat them.
“The situation causes things, such as cancer.
“But efforts are being made to address this problem.

“Scientists from the School of Marine and Environmental Sciences at UMT are working to find marine organisms that can act as a dispersing agent for microplastic in the bodies of marine creatures.”He said he and his students were working on implementing an anti-straw usage campaign to reduce the usage of plastic materials being dumped into the sea. He said doing this may improve the underwater environment for marine life.
The Adjunct Professor Programme for Bachelor of Economics (Natural Resources) was held from 18 September to 19 September 2018. The programme was organised by the Programme of Economics, School of Social and Economic Development (PPPSE) and Natural Resources Economic Club (NREC). Dato’ Sri Dr. Ibrahim bin Ahmad was involved as the Adjunct Professor for the programme. Dato’ Dr. Ibrahim was conferred the honorary Darjah Yang Mulia Panglima Jasa Negara by His Majesty, The King of Malaysia in 2011. Subsequently, he was conferred the Darjah Kebesaran Sultan Ahmad Shah Pahang, Yang Amat Di Mulia Peringkat Pertama Sri Sultan Ahmad Shah, Pahang (SSAP) by the Sultan of Pahang in 2017. Dato’ Dr Ibrahim currently serves as the Chairman of Universiti Malaysia Pahang, Vice President of OISCA International Tokyo Japan, and a member of the Board of Directors in Malaysia External Trade Development Corporation (MATRADE) and Johor Corporation (JCORP). Previously, Dato’ Dr. Ibrahim served as the chairman of OISCA International Finance Committee, Pro-Chancellor of Universiti Kuala Lumpur, Director General of Majlis Amanah Rakyat (MARA), Chairman of MARA Council, MARA Corporation Sdn Bhd, and Yayasan Pelajaran MARA. He also served as a board member of Amanah Saham MARA, Pusat Pembangunan Reka Bentuk Malaysia Sdn Bhd, Asia Aero-technic Sdn Bhd, and British Malaysian Institute Sdn Bhd.
During the first day of the programme, the Adjunct Professor met with the Vice-Chancellor of Universiti Malaysia Terengganu, Professor Dato’ Dr. Nor Aieni Haji Mokhtar, Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic and International) Professor Ir. Dr. Noor Azuan bin Abu Osman and the University’s Principal Officers at the Vice-Chancellor’s office accompanied by the Dean and academic management team of the School of Social and Economic Development, UMT.  In the meeting, productive discussion about industrial collaboration with the industry was carried out. After the meeting with Vice-Chancellor, the Adjunct Professor Dato’ Dr. Ibrahim joined a closed discussion with all the lecturers from the Department of Economics at the School of Social and Economic Development, UMT. During the meeting, Dato’ Dr. Ibrahim gave ideas and suggestions for the academic programmes currently offered by the School and the future perspectives on those programmes, focusing on the theme of “What factors could then be made so that the programmes offered by your economics department differ from others?”. Dato’ Dr. Ibrahim suggested that in order to promote and implement the programmes effectively, it is imperative to adopt an entrepreneurship thinking. Moreover, the students need to be trained with not only academic ideas but also entrepreneurship thinking in their field of studies. Further, the Adjunct Professor suggested that the School of Social and Economic Development (PPPSE) should be an entrepreneurial-based organisation. The lecturers received invaluable knowledge from the discussion with the Adjunct Professor concerning not only the academic field but also managing the organisation as well as self-management.
During the second day of the programme, the Adjunct Professor Dato’ Dr. Ibrahim gave a speech to the second and final year students at the Auditorium INOS, Universiti Malaysia Terengganu. Dato’ Dr. Ibrahim shared his knowledge in a speech entitled “Entrepreneurship: The World of Opportunities”. Students gained invaluable knowledge about the true meaning of entrepreneurship and how it is useful for the industry and organisation. The Adjunct Professor shared his experience of more than thirty years working in diverse fields and organisations especially in MARA and gave great motivation to the students on how to build their goals and aims in life. During the session, the students asked some questions concerning industrial training and internship within specific industries as a way to engage in the real world work as well as entrepreneurship opportunities after graduating. Dato’ Dr. Ibrahim explained and guided the way that the students can get involved in the industry in order to further explore and develop the knowledge that they gained from the university.
The Department of Fundamental Knowledge and Liberal Education, Center for Fundamental and Liberal Education, Universiti Malaysia Terengganu (UMT) has organized its first knowledge-transfer programme, namely KidzLestari on the issues and challenges of sustainable development through fun and creative learning activities. The programme was held in situ in three phases participated by the 5-6 years old pre-schooler children of Tadika Yayasan Islam Terengganu Cawangan, Wakaf Tembesu, Kuala Nerus and greatly supported by their teachers.
The first phase kicked off with ‘Hari Sayangi Planet Kita’ (‘Love Our Planet’s Day’) on 26th March 2018 involving a fun talk and eco-dance with the pre-schoolers on the importance of marine environment and practical ways to save it from destruction. The day concluded with a hands-on activity on the proper discard of recyclable solid wastes into the three-colored recycling bins done by the pre-schoolers themselves under facilitation of their teachers and UMT student-facilitators.
The second phase held on 7th May 2018 involving the in-classroom activity on producing classroom tools out of solid wastes like used papers and plastic bottles. Fully supervised and guided, the pre-schoolers managed to shape rolls of used paper sheets into various sizes of stationery baskets and plastic bottles into creatively decorated flowerpots, much to their enjoyment to finally succeeding it at the end.
The programme concluded with the KidzLestari Appreciation Day (Hari Apresiasi KidzLestari) held on 8th September 2018 to appreciate the commitment and cooperation given by the participated pre-schooler teachers in the execution of the planned activities and upon successful accomplishment of the programme’s objectives. The day commenced with a special talk titled ‘Tadika Lestari, Didik Bestari’ (‘Sustainable Kindergarten, Nurture By Wisdom’) auspiciously imparted by the UMT sustainable economist, Mr. Mohd Azmi Bin Muhammed Idris and concluded with the presentation of appreciative certificates and memorabilia to the participants. The programme has inspired further deliberation between the department and Yayasan Islam Terengganu to formulate a specially designed KidzLestari Modules that will outline an instructional curriculum embedding sustainability concepts and values to complement the environmental education needs of pre-schoolers of the day.
UMT and the Department of Marine Park Malaysia (DMPM) have a great relationship that is getting stronger over the years especially in research collaboration. On the 18th  and 19th of April 2018, DMPM organized a research seminar themed “Conserving Malaysia’s National Treasure” in Sungai Petani, Kedah in celebration of the International Year of the Reef 2018.
This annual seminar is a platform for all researchers who received research funding from DMPM to present their findings in 8 research projects and 2 research expeditions conducted in the marine parks around Malaysia covering a few research fields. Prof. Dato’ Dr. Nor Aieni Haji Mokhtar, UMT Vice-Chancellor was the keynote speaker of this seminar, and 6 UMT researchers also presented their findings under the 2017 funding.
Dr. Rumeaida Mat Piah from the School of Fisheries and Aquaculture Sciences, presented her findings entitled ‘Measurement of the success of No-Take Zones in Malaysia: In fish population perspective’ in which her team investigated whether the implementation of No-Take Zones in Malaysia since 1994 had successfully conserved various marine habitats and aquatic lives. Her team characterized and compared the characteristics of the fish population in Redang Island No-take Zone and non-protected Bidong Island.
This seminar was a good platform for introducing UMT’s talents and establishing research network with the counterparts from USM, UUM, UIAM, UM, UiTM and various government and non-government agencies such as the Department of Fisheries, FRIM, NAHRIM, and PTNJ.  
Mini Aquaculture Farm Programme 1.0 was organized by the Intelligent Graduate Students of Aquaculture Club (INTEGRA) comprising of students from the aquaculture program of the School of Fisheries and Aquaculture Sciences (PPSPA), UMT in collaboration with Sekolah Menengah Kebangsaan Rawang (SEMEKAR). The objective of the programme was to enlighten and develop interest in aquaculture among secondary school students. The students were exposed to a variety of information through practical activities such as hands-on artificial breeding, fish dissection, live feed and pellets identification and setting up ornamental fish aquarium under the facilitation of INTEGRA members.

Both the principal of SEMEKAR, Mrs. Nurzalina Abdul Kadir and the chairman of PIBG, Mr. Mohamed Saufi Shafie have recognized the impact of this program in raising the awareness of the importance of aquaculture among students. The SEMEKAR students were not the only ones benefited from this program. The UMT students involved also had the opportunity to put into practice the knowledge that they had learned in classes, and also to improve their soft skills such as communication, teamwork, and leadership, which would be essential for them in the working world after graduation.

INTEGRA is planning for the second Mini Aquaculture Farm Program (MAF 2.0), this time in collaboration with Sekolah Menengah Kebangsaan Taman Tuanku Jaafar, in Negeri Sembilan. The target participants are the special needs students whom we hope will be able to gain practical skills that help to support themselves in the future.

A memorandum of understanding (MoU) was successfully signed on August 9th, 2018 between Universiti Malaysia Terengganu (UMT) and Bung Hatta University (BHU), Padang, Indonesia, by UMT Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Dato’ Dr. Nor Aieini Haji Mokhtar and Rector of BHU, Prof. Dr. Azwar Ananda. The MoU was also signed by the Dean of the School of Fisheries and Aquaculture Sciences (PPSPA), UMT, Prof. Dr. Najiah binti Musa, and the Dean of Fisheries and Marine Science Faculty of BHU, Ir. Mas Eriza (MS). The ceremony was also attended by the Deputy Dean (Talent and Research) of PPSPA, Dr. Shahreza bin Md. Sheriff, PPSPA lecturer, Dr. Alfian Zein, School of Informatics and Applied Mathematics (PPIMG) lecturer, Assoc. Prof. Dr. Sabri Ahmad, special officer to Vice Chancellor, Ms. Nurhafiza Binti Mohammad and a special guest from BHU.
The MoU is a manifestation of cooperation established since 1995 when UMT was the Fishery and Marine Science Faculty of Universiti Pertanian Malaysia (UPM). The cooperation in progress includes fisheries education (6 Master and Ph.D. graduates from BHU, 4 inbound students and 5 outbound/ industrial training students), lecturer exchange and the establishment of engineering faculty.
This cooperation is very important for both universities in building an inter-university synergy that is capable of leading the field of education and research as well as other activities mutually agreed upon. As addressed by Dato' Vice-Chancellor, "The collaborative program among these universities should be encouraged as it enhances the competency of academic staff and students to gain a better experience and exposure besides having the opportunity to apply the knowledge that has become more widely known. This is in line with the objective of the MoU which is to maintain UMT's relationship with BHU, while its mission is to promote the research and teaching"
There are seven important points in this MoU : student mobility, staff mobility,  joint seminars and conferences, joint research and publication, joint postgraduate supervision, offering of new academic program (coastal engineering), and marine education through virtual learning using UMT MOOC, and ASEAN-FEN for networking in fisheries education among ASEAN universities.

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University of Malaysia Terengganu, 21030,
Terengganu, Malaysia

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Universiti Malaysia Terengganu · The Chancellery,  · Kuala Terengganu, Terengganu 21300 · Malaysia

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