Malaysia: Banning shark finning alone not solution to dwindling shark numbers

Kristy Inus New Straits Times 16 Apr 16;

KOTA KINABALU: Banning shark finning alone is not a solution to dwindling shark numbers here.

Instead, creating shark sanctuaries and educational awareness are key to mitigating the issue.

Tourism Malaysia diving advisor Clement Lee said such sanctuaries should be created at different locations on Sabah's coast so that everyone can get involved, including fishermen who rely on catching sharks as their livelihood.

He said there was a need to create an alternative source of income for these fishermen by absorbing them into the hospitality sector where they would then have direct influence on choices made by family members when it comes to fishing activities.

Lee said this following the recent Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents' (Matta) call on members and partners to boycott restaurants that offer shark fins soup in their menus, revealing that sharks attracted over 55,000 divers to Sabah and generated RM323 million in economic revenue.

Sharing his experience as one of the pioneers in Sabah’s diving sector when he ventured into the business in 1983, he said as an industry player, he practiced the concept of bringing fishermen into hospitality as well as other sectors.

"We sent people from the island for training ... Some are now dive masters or even mechanics," he said in a statement released by the Sabah Shark Protection Association.

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