Malaysia: Sabah government submits proposal for conservation of shark, ray species

MUGUNTAN VANAR The Star 18 Jul 17;

KOTA KINABALU: The Sabah government has submitted a proposal for four shark species and two ray species to be protected under federal fishery regulations.

The four shark species are the great hammerhead shark, the smooth hammerhead shark, the winghead shark and the oceanic whitetip shark, while the protected ray species are the oceanic manta and reef manta rays.

According to Sabah Shark Protection Advocacy (SSPA), the move to protect these species under the Fisheries (Control of Endangered Species of Fish) Regulations 1999 is a major step forward in marine conservation.

"We are keen to continue our support for federal and state agencies to ensure these species are listed within this year," said SSPA president Aderick Chong.

The six species are currently listed under the Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), according to SSPA, a non-governmental organisation.

Chong said that the SSPA hopes the scalloped hammerhead and silky shark along with three species of thresher sharks and nine species of devil rays - which are listed on Appendix II of CITES - will be afforded similar protection.

He said that they were being caught by fishermen on a daily basis.

"These species always feature high on the wish list of divers, particularly scalloped hammerheads and devil rays.

"Many divers are attracted to Sabah as they hope to encounter one of these incredible animals," said Chong.

He also said SSPA wants to work with the Government to identify other species that might benefit from such protection and help with the enforcement of laws that regulate activities related to sharks and rays.

Based on information from the Fisheries Department, there are 48 shark and 65 ray species in Sabah compared with 70 shark and 85 ray species in Peninsula Malaysia.

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