Sabah sanctuaries ‘last resort’ to save sharks, says minister

Photos allegedly taken in Mabul island has sparked outrage again from conservationists who say that such acts were contradictory to the state’s eco tourism. ― Picture courtesy of Danau Girang Field Centre
Photos allegedly taken in Mabul island has sparked outrage again from conservationists who say that such acts were contradictory to the state’s eco tourism. ― Picture courtesy of Danau Girang Field Centre

KOTA KINABALU, July 20 ― The Sabah government’s move to declare three marine parks as shark sanctuaries is the “last resort” to prevent further decline of the species.

State Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Seri Masidi Manjun said the government and authorities could not do much to curb shark hunting and finning in Sabah unless and until the Fisheries Act was amended.

“Unless laws are enforced and the state is given more powers to deal with the issue, we will only see unnecessary killing of sharks.

“We can do the next best thing to protect our sharks, by declaring marine parks as shark sanctuaries to make it illegal to catch sharks in these parks,” he told reporters at his ministry’s Raya open house.

The function held on Tuesday night at the Sabah National Culture and Arts Department grounds was attended by the ministry's workforce and their families.

Yesterday, pictures showing dead sharks with their fins severed believed to be taken from Mabul Island off Semporna were found circulating on the internet.

“The photos we see [on the internet] are what we have been opposing and talking about in the last few years...shark hunting and finning simply cannot continue.

“The state earns around RM300 million from the diving industry every year; most divers come here to observe the sharks,” he said.

According to Masidi, the mechanics of establishing shark sanctuaries in marine parks and implementing relevant laws banning shark hunting were being studied.

“We will be making an announcement about our progress in the near future,” he said.

The Tun Mutapha marine park in Kudat will be formally launched this Sunday; the park together with Tunku Abdul Rahman marine park in Kota Kinabalu and Tun Sakaran marine park in Semporna are expected to be declared as shark sanctuaries this year. ― Bernama