Malaysia: Forum on sharks and rays protection to kick start tomorrow

Avila Geraldine New Straits Times 20 Jun 18;

KOTA KINABALU: A high level forum to discuss sharks and rays protection in Sabah waters will kick start here tomorrow, with participation from local and foreign researchers, non-governmental organisations (NGO), and government officials.

The groups will convene at Shangri-La’s Tanjung Aru Resort here, to further deliberate on the situation of sharks and rays population in the state’s waters at the two-day Sabah Sharks and Rays Forum 2018, which ends on Friday.

Among the forum participants are the State Tourism, Culture and Environment Ministry, Sabah Fisheries Department under the state Agriculture and Food Industry Ministry, Universiti Malaysia Sabah, and Universiti Teknologi MARA.

NGOs include WWF-Malaysia, WWF-Pakistan, WWF-International, Save Philippine Sea, Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS), Sabah Sharks Protection Association (SSPA), Marine Research Foundation, and the Wildlife Conservation Society among others.

In the forum tomorrow, participants will be given an update on the protection progress, which include eco-tourism research, socioeconomic study, awareness-raising works as well as law and policy on Malaysia’s sharks and rays.

Participants will also be given an insight into the shark policies in the Philippines.

A high-level dialogue is scheduled on Friday, of which state Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Christina Liew is expected to attend the dialogue.

The Sabah Sharks and Rays Forum 2018, which carries the theme “Exploring Synergies between Fisheries, Conservation and Tourism“, is jointly organised by Land Empowerment Animals People, WWF-Malaysia and SSPA.

The forum is also expected to reveal results of an updated study to assess the current economic value of the shark diving industry in Semporna, following the 2012 Shark Tourism Economic Valuation Study that was led by AIMS.