KOTA KINABALU, July 19 ― New gory photos of shark finning said to be taken in the dive haven of Mabul, off Sabah’s famed Sipadan island are circulating on the internet and have enraged environmentalists, including state Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Seri Masidi Manjun.
Masidi who has been advocating shark protection in Sabah’s waters denounced the heinous act, but indicated that there would be little the authorities could do as there is currently no law banning shark finning in the state.
“The photos speaks volumes of what I and many other Sabahans have been advocating for the last five years,” he said, adding that he had given his thoughts on the problems many times in the past.
Asked if there would be investigations based on the photos, he replied: “What difference does it make when there is no law against this despicable act?”
The photos on Facebook show several sharks with its fins cut off floating in a sea of blood within a water village area, along with allegations that the photos were taken at Mabul island, a locally-inhabited island within the Tun Sakaran Marine Park.
The island itself is home to a fishing community living in several water villages, as well as a host of dive resorts ranging from backpacker to luxury stilt chalets.
Conservation research group Danau Girang Field Centre director Dr Benoît Goossens who posted on their Facebook page said that it was incomprehensible to think that such an act was allowed to be carried out near a world class diving island like Sipadan.
“The massacre has to stop! It is crazy to think that it is happening a few miles from the best diving spots where divers go to see sharks. I think Sabah should make a stand and put the Sharks under special protection in Sabah's waters and enforce it,” he said.
“Sharks attract divers from all over the world to Sabah, it is a huge tourism industry bringing millions to the state. Sabah needs to get its own law, ban shark killing and finning and enforce the law in its waters,” he said.
Following reports of a 80 per cent decline of sharks in its waters, the state has been pushing for the federal government to ban shark hunting and finning by amending its Fisheries Act. However, its three year proposal was dismissed claiming that shark hunting was not a huge business in the state.
Masidi has since then come out to say that the state will enforce its own shark sanctuary through its marine parks soon.
The Tun Sakaran marine park in Semporna, Tunku Abdul Rahman marine park fronting the state capital, and the proposed Tun Mustapha marine park in Kudat would be declared shark sanctuaries and off limits to shark fishing.
The three parks total some two million hectares and is habitat to about 80 per cent of the state’s shark population.
The Tun Mustapha Marine Park is set to be launched this Sunday.