NICHOLAS CHENG The Star 30 Jul 16;
KUALA LUMPUR: Seven new types of sharks and rays will be included in the endangered species list of the Fisheries Act but the rest of Malaysia’s 67 shark species are still free to be caught and consumed.
Agriculture and Agro-based Industry Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Shabery Cheek also announced that Sabah was free to totally ban shark hunting if the state government so wished.
This comes amid mounting pressure from international and Malaysian conservationists and even from the Natural Resources and Environment Ministry and the Sabah government to amend the Fisheries Act to totally ban shark hunting.
In an interview yesterday, Ahmad Shabery said Sabah would have to revise its own laws to ban shark hunting but federal regulations on sharks would remain the same.
He also explained that out of the 67 shark species, of which 48 could be found in Sabah waters, only two were considered endangered - the whale shark and the sawfish.
The ministry plans to gazette the oceanic white tip shark, four hammerhead shark species, the giant oceanic manta ray and the reef manta ray as endangered species, too.
“Not all sharks are endangered. They try to generalise sharks but there are 67 types. These are common species that you can see in the market every day, so you cannot generalise sharks as a whole.
“I agree that endangered species have to be protected. If Sabah wants a total ban on shark hunting, they have the right to do so. There is no problem with us. We don’t get the profit, only Sabah,” he said.
Sabah’s Fisheries Department exists separately from the Federal Government’s jurisdiction, he said, making it possible for the state to enact its own laws on shark hunting.
“But to have a blanket ban on all sharks under the Fisheries Act, that is not possible.
“ It’s not to say I don’t love sharks. Because if you want to do total banning, it has to fit international standards,” he said, explaining that total protection on an apex predator could lead to an ecological imbalance in marine life.
Ahmad Shabery disagreed with shark conservationists who claimed that 80% of Malaysia’s shark population had depleted since 1989, saying that studies were being done to sustainably manage the population – though no results can be announced yet.
According to ministry statistics, shark products make up 0.1% of Malaysia’s total fisheries output with 1,466 metric tonnes to the 1.45 million metric tonnes of seafood caught from 2008 to 2014.
According to wildlife conservation group TRAFFIC, Malaysia ranked 10 in the world for shark hunting, behind countries Indonesia, India, Mexico, Taiwan, the United States and Japan.
On Natural Resources and Environment Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar’s proposal to have sharks protected under a planned Protected Marine Animals Act, Ahmad Shabery said discussions were ongoing.
“I don’t want people to think there is a clash between two ministries. That is not the way we work. We will iron out between us,” he said.
‘Shark finning may not be banned’
RUBEN SARIO The Star 2 Aug 16;
KOTA KINABALU: A move by Sabah to pass its own law banning the hunting and finning of sharks, may see the enactment being challenged, said the Federal Government.
State Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Seri Masidi Manjun said there was a possibility that such a state law would be rendered ineffective.
“Our officers are studying the relevant laws, taking into account that federal law is supreme,” he told The Star yesterday.
“The state can only enact its own law if such legislation does not contradict with any existing provision in the Federal Fisheries Act that is currently enforced in Sabah.”
Masidi said that no state law to ban shark hunting and finning could stand up in court if it overrides provisions in the Fisheries Act which does not make such actions an offence.
“The reason is simple. Federal law takes precedence over state law.
“Any person charged under state law could apply for a court declaration that the state law is void because it goes against the provisions of a federal law,” Masidi said.
“The Fisheries Act needs to be amended to allow Sabah to enact its own law against shark finning.”
He added that Sabah could be excluded from certain provisions of the Act that would allow it to enact its own law.
There is mounting pressure from international and local conservationists on the Sabah government to amend the Fisheries Act to ban shark hunting and finning.
Agriculture and Agro-based Industry Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Shabery Cheek, however, saw amendements to the Act as unnecessary.
He had said that Sabah was free to amend its state laws to ban shark hunting, but federal regulations would remain.
The state Fisheries Department was outside the Federal Government’s jurisdiction, making it possible for the state to enact its own law on shark hunting, he said.
Ahmad Shabery had also said that out of the 67 shark species, of which 48 could be found in Sabah waters, only two were considered endangered – whale shark and sawfish.
Stricter laws needed to protect Sabah sharks, rays
ROY GOH New Straits Times 4 Aug 16;
KOTA KINABALU: Effective legislation on the capture and consumption of sharks and rays in Sabah must be formulated to protect the species.
In welcoming the announcement that Sabah has the authority to ban shark hunting, the Sabah Shark Protection Association (SSPA) today said a constructive way forward is needed amidst national and international attention on the issue.
“We are asking the Federal and State governments to make changes to the Fisheries Act that may be necessary to enable Sabah to pass the desired State level legislation,” SSPA chairman Aderick Chong said in a statement.
“Since the federal Ministry of Agriculture and Agro-based Industry has already announced that Sabah can enact our own laws to ban shark hunting to protect sharks in Sabah, SSPA urges the state Ministry of Agriculture and Food Industry to take action on the federal minister's nod on protecting sharks.
“Outside of Sabah Parks Marine Protected Areas or shark sanctuaries, the state ministry under Datuk Seri Yahya Hussin can consider to put in place a ban on shark landing, slaughtering and trading of Sabah's already depleted reef sharks and CITES listed endangered species,” he added.
CITES (the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) is an international agreement between governments.
SSPA was reacting to the response by Sabah Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Seri Masidi Manjun that if the State enacted its own laws to ban the hunting and finning of sharks, it may result in the local legislation being challenged.
Agriculture and Agro-based Industry Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Shabery Cheek had recently announced that Sabah has the authority to ban shark hunting.
Masidi had said Sabah could only enact its own law if such legislation does not conflict with any existing provision in the Federal Fisheries Act that is currently enforced in the State.
SSPA also views positively the proposal by Federal Natural Resource and Environment Minister Datuk Seri Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar to list sharks under a planned Protected Marine Animals Act pending the ironing out of technicalities between the two ministries, and between Federal and State authorities.
Shark Stewards Director David McGuire said ocean conservationists around the globe applaud the leadership of the Sabah and Federal governments for creating a solution that benefits sharks and ocean health.
Shark Stewards is one of eight SSPA members, the others being Land Empowerment Animals People (LEAP), Malaysian Nature Society (Sabah branch), Marine Conservation Society (MCS), Shark, Education, Awareness and Survival (SEAS), Scubazoo, Tropical Research and Conservation Centre (TRACC) and WWF-Malaysia.
LEAP Executive Director Cynthia Ong meanwhile said new or amended laws need to be coupled with efforts to help shark fishermen find alternative sources of livelihood and a meaningful stake in the diving and ecotourism sector.
In recent years there has been a big change in public attitudes to sharks and shark fin soup in Sabah, with awareness raising reaching the point where there is a general call for action.
Fresh photos of sharks being finned on Pulau Mabul in Semporna were splashed all over the media in recent weeks, increasing the pressure on the Federal government to make a stand in relation to Sabah wanting protection for sharks, a matter the State has repeatedly raised.
NICHOLAS CHENG The Star 30 Jul 16;