Apo Reef

Choo Poh Leem

  • Project name: Marine Spatial Planning for EDGE coral species in Semporna, Sabah
  • Project site: Semporna Priority Conservation Area (PCA), Malaysia
  • EDGE species: Lithophyllon ranjithi & Heliofungia actiniformis corals
  • Active: 2016 - 2018


Before completing her Masters degree in marine biology, Poh Leem worked as a curator at the University of Malaysia’s Zoological Museum. Currently, she works as the Team Leader in Semporna Priority Conservation Area for WWF-Malaysia. She has recently started a part-time PhD, focused on prioritising threatened corals for conservation through Semporna Marine Spatial Planning.

Poh Leem aspires to become an activist for coral reef conservation and lead Malaysian reef conservation initiatives. She hopes that Semporna PCA can be a model site for marine spatial planning and the efforts can be duplicated in other sites in Malaysia.

EDGE Project

Poh Leem’s project is mapping the abundance and distribution of two poorly understood mushroom coral species, and aims to raise awareness among dive operators, government agencies and local communities of coral reef conservation. Conservation efforts will be implemented collaboratively with stakeholders, ensuring the protection of these species is sustainable. Through her project, Poh Leem is:

  • Conducting Green Fin Certification training workshops for dive operators to promote a more sustainable way of diving and encourage EDGE coral species protection;
  • Producing a collaborative coral reef protection report and document the progress of the dive operators’ efforts for coral protection;
  • Incorporating EDGE coral species mapping into marine spatial planning in the Semporna District.


  • Organised a Green Fin introductory workshop in Sabah Parks with 16 local dive operators, following which 5 dive operators agreed to be assessed by Green Fin.
  • 300 students and teachers from 3 primary schools took part in an anti-fish bombing roadshow, which was featured in a local newspaper.

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