Malaysia: CITES put species of sharks and rays in Sabah under protection

OLIVIA MIWIL New Straits Times 12 Oct 16;

KOTA KINABALU: Three sharks and four rays species found in Sabah waters have gained international protection under Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).

On Oct 3, thresher sharks, silky shark and devil rays have been catalogued under CITES Appendix II during the 17th meeting of the Conference of the Parties (CoP17) in South Africa.

Species listed in Appendix II are not necessarily threatened with extinction but might cease to exist unless there is strict regulation in trading of the animals.

World Wildlife Fund (WWF) shark-protection programme leader Andy Cornish welcomes the positive development.

“Governments around the world will now have to act to ensure that trade is from sustainable and legal fisheries,” he said in a statement.

Meanwhile, Sabah Shark Protection Association (SSPA) president, Aderick Chong said the CITES management authority in Malaysia has done a good job in garnering support to have more species listed.

CITES parties will have a year to implement the new international trade obligations for silky and thresher sharks and six months for devil rays.

“The association urge the government to prioritise putting in place international trade controls (over these species).

“SSPA is looking forward to lend support to Malaysian authorities to properly manage all CITES-listed species.”

Shark hunting and finning have been rampant in the state as there are currently no laws banning such activities despite repetitive calls by Sabah Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Seri Masidi Manjun to amend the Federal Fisheries Act.n

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