Notes on Coastal and Marine Protected Area Map

These are the notes on the Malaysian coastal and marine protected area map that is in our story One Thousand and One Ways to Protect The Ocean.


1.  The map shows marine and coastal protected areas established by various Malaysian laws that cater for conservation and resource management purpose.

2.  This list of protected areas is adapted primarily from the list of marine and coastal protected areas in Enhancing Uptake of Nature-Based Solutions for Informing Coastal Sustainable Development Policy and Planning: A Malaysia Case Study (Chee et al., 2021). These areas are located in the sea or within 5 km inland from the Malaysian coast. The list is also cross checked and updated from the sources below:

Data Category

Information Source

Peninsular Malaysia and Labuan Marine Parks

Department of Fisheries Malaysia (DOFM)

Peninsular Malaysia and Sarawak Fisheries Prohibited Areas


Kedah Sea Cucumber Protection Area


Peninsular Malaysia Turtle Sanctuaries

Protected Planet: The World Database on Protected Areas (WDPA)

Malaysia Biodiversity Information System (MyBIS)

Peninsular Malaysia State Parks


Peninsular Malaysia National Parks


Penang Government Gazette, 10 April 2003

Peninsular Malaysia mangroves, Forest Reserves and Wildlife Reserves


Department of Environment’s geospatial data repository (mangrove forests only)

Sabah State Parks

Sabah Parks


Sabah Marine Conservation Area


Sabah Forest Reserves


Sarawak State Parks, Nature Reserves and Wildlife Sanctuaries

Sarawak Forestry Corporation


Note that other than the Penang National Park, other ‘national parks’ are not gazetted under federal legislation.

3.  Polygons and points: Boundary data from the World Database on Protected Areas (WDPA) is used to show protected areas as polygons. Where boundary data is not available, polygons are created using government gazettes (e.g. marine parks designated in 2023). Otherwise, the area is marked as a single point (e.g. Pulau Perepat Nature Reserve).

4.  ‘Reported Marine Area’ and ‘Reported Total Area’ is derived from the websites of Sarawak Forestry Corporation, Sabah Parks, MyBIS, government gazettes, DOFM or as provided to Macaranga by the DOFM. The source is specified in the Remark field. If it is not specified, the area size is as per WDPA’s record.

5.  For Peninsular Malaysia’s mangrove forest area, ‘Reported Area’ is as recorded in the Department of Environment’s geospatial file.


Table 1: Definition of each data field in the map

Data Field



Name of the protected area, except Peninsular Malaysia’s mangrove areas, where the state’s name is listed.


Official title of the site, as per its gazette.

Designation Year

The year which the site’s designation came into effect after being gazetted.

IUCN Category

IUCN Protected Area Management Category as per WDPA’s record. Refer to Table 2 below for definition of each category.

Reported Marine Area (sqkm)

The extent of the protected area that falls within the marine environment, in square kilometres.

Reported Total Area (sqkm)

Total protected area, including marine, freshwater and terrestrial areas, in square kilometres. It should always be greater than or equal to the Reported Marine Area field.

Governance type

The entity responsible and accountable for making decisions about how a protected area is managed.

Management Authority

The agency, organisation, individual or group that manages the protected area. It is distinct from the governance type, which relates to who is responsible for deciding on the activities of the management authority. The governance type and management authority may not match.


Note regarding the site/data in the field.

Reported Area (sqm)

[Peninsular Malaysia’s mangrove forests only]

Area, in square metres.

Table 2: Definition of IUCN Protected Area Management Categories

Source: Guidelines for applying the IUCN protected area management categories to marine protected areas (IUCN, 2019).




Strictly protected areas set aside to protect biodiversity and also possibly geological/ geomorphological features, where human visitation, use and impacts are strictly controlled and limited to ensure protection of the conservation values. Such protected areas can serve as indispensable reference areas for scientific research and monitoring.


Usually large, unmodified or slightly modified areas, retaining their natural character and influence, without permanent or significant human habitation, which are protected and managed so as to preserve their natural condition.


Large natural or near natural areas set aside to protect large scale ecological processes, along with the complement of species and ecosystems characteristic of the area, which also provide a foundation for environmentally and culturally compatible spiritual, scientific, educational, recreational and visitor opportunities.


Set aside to protect a specific natural monument, which can be a landform, sea mount, submarine caverns, geological feature such as a cave or even a living feature such as an ancient grove. They are generally quite small protected areas and often have high visitor value.


Aim to protect particular species or habitats and management reflects this priority. Many category IV protected areas will need regular, active interventions to address the requirements of particular species or to maintain habitats, but this is not a requirement of the category.


Where the interaction of people and nature over time has produced an area of distinct character with significant ecological, biological, cultural and scenic value: and where safeguarding the integrity of this interaction is vital to protecting and sustaining the area and its associated nature conservation and other values.


Category VI protected areas conserve ecosystems and habitats together with associated cultural values and traditional natural resource management systems. They are generally large, with most of the area in natural condition, where a proportion is under sustainable natural resource management and where low level non industrial use of natural resources compatible with nature conservation is seen as one of the main aims of the area.

Edited by SL Wong


Questions and comments? Please email us.


Chee, SY., et al. (2021) Enhancing Uptake of Nature-Based Solutions for Informing Coastal Sustainable Development Policy and Planning: A Malaysia Case Study. Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution. 9:708507.

Day, J., et al. (eds.) (2019). Guidelines for applying the IUCN protected area management categories to marine protected areas. Second edition. Gland. Switzerland: IUCN.

Department of Fisheries Malaysia. Official Portal. 2023.

Sabah Parks. Official Portal.

Sarawak Forestry Corporation. Totally Protected Areas. 2023.

UNEP-WCMC and IUCN (2023) Protected Planet: The World Database on Protected Areas (WDPA), September 2023, Cambridge, UK: UNEP-WCMC and IUCN.


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