Sunday, April 24, 2011

Sea of shrinking sharks in Sabah waters

The shark population in the waters off Sabah is getting smaller and this is mainly due to shark finning activities.

DIVERS' logs in Sabah are beginning to show fewer sharks. “In 1996/97 when I first came here, we did a lot of surveys to see what the issues and problems were and what we could do about them,” says marine biologist Steve Oakley.

“In December last year and January this year, a group did a lot of dives around Sabah. We have taken their information as well as information from dive resorts around the coasts and have come up with a picture of how many sharks have been lost.”

According to Oakley, who set up the Green Connection Aquarium in Kota Kinabalu, a staggering 98% of the sharks that had been recorded from 1996 have been lost.

A quick Google search revealed that Malaysia is ranked among the top 10 countries in the world that contribute to the depletion of sharks.

Both the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (Cites) have determined that sharks need protection. Many countries including the US (Hawaii) have imposed a ban on shark fishing.

Over the past few years, the campaign has picked up with “Say No to Shark's Fin Soup” groups from various countries supporting each other over the Internet. Their aim is to discourage people from consuming the soup, the biggest contributor to shark depletion. They also seek to remind people about the sharks' role in the ecosystem of the ocean.

Recently, this effort became more urgent as divers off Mabul Island, another popular dive site near Sipadan off the coast of Semporna in Sabah, witnessed the regular killing of sharks.

When he heard this, Kirk Keong Lee, founder of the Facebook group “Save the Shark from a Bowl of Soup”, went to Mabul to see it for himself.

“It was 6.45pm when someone told me there was shark finning in one of the villages. I rushed over with my camera and managed to see six or seven sharks, about two metres long, on land and another four or five in the water that had already been finned.

“I took a few pictures and when I turned off the camera, one of the persons there who spoke English well told me not to share the photos because some people had said it (sharks finning) was illegal,” he says.

“The fishermen cut off the fin, head and teeth (jaw) and dumped the body into the sea.”

Continue reading (Incl. Pic) at: Sea of shrinking sharks in Sabah waters

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