Malaysia: Sabah govt urged to ban shark hunting

The Star 15 Jan 16;

KOTA KINABALU: An environmental NGO wants an immediate halt to shark hunting in Sabah to enable a detailed study on the remaining population of the marine creatures in the waters off the state.

The Sabah Shark Protection Association (SSPA) said a one-year moratorium on shark hunting would also be in line with the Sabah government’s call for a ban in 2012.

“There is an urgent need to strengthen shark protection under Malaysian conservation and fisheries laws,” SSPA chairman Aderick Chong said following reports of two British tourists spotting sharks being landed near the diving haven of Pulau Mabul in Sabah’s east coast.

“Given the absolute importance of sharks to Sabah’s marine ecosystem and their significant value to tourism, allowing shark hunting will be nothing more than extreme recklessness,” he added.

He said a scientific study of marine creatures in the Semporna region by the Australian Institute of Marine Science a few years ago valued a single living shark at US$815,000 to Sabah in terms of tourism revenue, compared to US$100 for its fins.

State Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Seri Masidi Manjun said that the state government would continue to pursue the ban through amendments to the Fisheries Act.

NGO calls for ban on shark hunting in Sabah
RUBEN SARIO The Star 14 Jan 16;

KOTA KINABALU: An environmental NGO wants an immediate halt to shark hunting in Sabah to enable a detailed study on the remaining population of the marine creatures in waters off the state.

The Sabah Shark Protection Association (SSPA) said a one year moratorium on shark hunting would also be in line with the Sabah government’s call for a similar ban in 2012.

“There is an urgent need to strengthen shark protection under Malaysian conservation and fisheries laws,” SSPA chairman Aderick Chong said following reports of British tourists spotting shark landings near the diving haven of Pulau Mabul in Sabah’s east coast.

“Given the absolute importance of sharks to Sabah’s marine ecosystem, the continuing of shark hunting in Sabah is nothing more than extreme recklessness,” he added.

Chong noted that most shark species were endangered and Sabah could not afford to lose more due to their hunting.
He said sharks were vulnerable to over-exploitation because they are slow-growing, mature at a late age, and have relatively low productivity.

“Therefore, their populations are slow to reproduce and may not recover once overfished,” he added.

He said shark conservation was crucial for the diving industry in the east coast. A scientific study of marine creatures in the Semporna region by the Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS) a few years ago valued a single living shark at US$815,000 (RM3.6mil) to Sabah in terms of tourism revenue, compared with US$100 (RM440) for its fins.

Chong said apart from the economic benefits from dive tourism, sharks help to stabilise the marine ecosystem and keep our oceans healthy.

“Sharks also help maintain the health of coral reefs, protect vital sea habitats and even prevent climate change,” he added.
State Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Seri Masidi Manjun said the photographs taken by the British tourists of the shark landings at Pulau Mabul justified the need for hunting the marine creatures.

He said the state government would continue to pursue the ban through amendments in the Fisheries Act.


Urgent Need to Protect Sharks in Semporna and throughout Malaysia
WWF 14 Jan 16;

13 January, Kota Kinabalu: Sabah Shark Protection Association (SSPA) is calling for Malaysia to protect its dwindling shark populations in the country, especially in Semporna.

SSPA President, Aderick Chong, is reiterating this urgent call for shark protection in light of distressing news that the shark fishing on Pulau Mabul has resumed (Destruction of sharks in Semporna shocks tourists, Borneo Post Online, 13 January 2016).

“Shark fishing needs to stop immediately. Most shark species are endangered and we cannot afford to lose more due to direct take from humans,” stresses Aderick of SSPA. “Fresh shark meat and dried shark fins and products are still openly traded in wet markets and shops throughout Sabah.”

The sharks are being landed and finned in plain view of the public, which includes local and international tourists and divers who come to Semporna expecting to see the beauty and wonders of our marine treasures, especially the rare and endangered sharks.

“How do we explain such horrific shark activities to our paying visitors?” laments Aderick. Global shark tourism generates revenue of around US$314 million annually and is expected to keep growing to a potential $780 million annually over the next 20 years.

The demand for shark fin and meat leads to the high volumes of sharks being caught. Malaysia is already ranked the world’s 9th largest shark producer and 3rd largest shark importer in volume (Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nation’s State of the global market for shark products). The report clearly indicates that Malaysia is a major shark producer with a large consumer market for shark fins.

“We do not want to increase the volumes by allowing shark fishing to continue, and embarrass ourselves by ranking higher in future!” says Aderick.

A scientific study of sharks in the Semporna region carried out by the Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS) a few years ago valued a single living shark in Sabah’s waters at US$815,000 to Sabah in terms of tourism revenue, compared with US$100 for its fins.

Apart from the economic benefits from dive tourism, sharks help to stabilise the marine ecosystem and keep our oceans healthy. According to new studies (Predators as Prey: Why Healthy Oceans Need Sharks, July 2008 and Predators help protect carbon stocks in blue carbon ecosystems, September 2015), sharks also help maintain the health of coral reefs, protect vital sea habitats and even prevent climate change.

Sharks are very vulnerable to over-exploitation because they are slow-growing, mature at a late age, and have relatively low productivity. Therefore, their populations are slow to reproduce and may not recover once overfished.

Considering AIMS’ study and the recent evidence, shark fishing has resumed with a vengeance in Semporna; every passing day spent discussing how exactly to protect Sabah’s sharks, we are in reality losing millions of dollars’ worth of potential revenue, as well as undermining the very marine ecosystem upon which we all depend.

Moving forwards, SSPA strongly recommends a moratorium on ALL shark fishing in Sabah’s waters for at least 1, possibly 2 years to allow a proper scientific study to be undertaken to understand more about the remaining sharks left swimming in Sabah’s waters before these too are removed.

Given the absolute importance of sharks to Sabah’s marine ecosystem, their significant value to tourism continuing to fish sharks in Sabah is nothing more than extreme recklessness.

Sabah Tourism, Culture and Environment Ministry suggested banning shark fishing in 2012. SSPA urges that the need is apparent and urgent now to strengthen shark protection under relevant conservation and fisheries laws in Malaysia.

SSPA consists of the Malaysian Nature Society (Sabah branch), Marine Conservation Society (MCS), Shark, Education, Awareness and Survival (SEAS), Scubazoo, Tropical Research and Conservation Centre (TRACC), WWF-Malaysia, Shark Stewards and Land Empowerment Animals People (LEAP).

Shark sanctuaries all set to take off in Sabah
RUBEN SARIO The Star 17 Jan 16;

KOTA KINABALU: Sabah’s planned shark sanctuaries are set to take off, most likely by June this year.

State Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Seri Masidi Manjun said plans were being finalised for the setting up of the sanctuaries in waters surrounding Sabah where shark hunting would be banned.

“Hopefully, we will be able to make an announcement in June,” he told The Star yesterday.

Masidi did not state where the sanctuaries would be, but talk is that they will include areas within the 340sq km Tun Sakaran Marine Park in the east coast.

It is learnt that state officials are considering gazetting as many as six shark sanctuaries off Sabah.

The issue of the sanctuaries came to light again after British tourists photographed shark carcasses at Pulau Mabul, famed for diving activity, on Monday.

Sabah had clamoured for a ban on shark hunting but Agriculture and Agro-Based Industry Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Shabery Cheek said such a move was unnecessary.

The state is getting help from the Federal Fisheries Department to set up these, with the latter identifying locations for it.

Sabah Shark Protection Association (SSPA) had raised an alarm about sharks being intentionally hunted after hundreds of fins were seen outside a shop here last October.

SSPA chairman Aderick Chong said the fins showed a supply chain from fishing vessels to the shops.

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