Monday, February 29, 2016

Three marine parks in Sabah to be shark sanctuaries

KOTA KINABALU: Sabah will declare three of its marine parks as shark sanctuaries by mid-2016 in a bid protect the endangered marine creatures, said Sabah Tourism, Culture and Environment minister Datuk Masidi Manjun.

They are the Tun Sakaran marine park in Semporna district, Tunku Abdul Rahman marine park here and the proposed Tun Mustapha marine park in Kudat.

These marine parks cover a total area of some two million hectares and are home to about 80 per cent of our shark population, said Masidi after launching the My Fin My Life campaign to reduce shark fin consumption and promote sustainable seafood at Suria Sabah shopping mall here yesterday.

Masidi said the move to ban shark fishing at the marine parks would hopefully increase the shark population.

Masidi said his ministrys officers were finalising documents to be tabled during the state cabinet meeting for the three marine parks to be gazetted as shark sanctuaries.

He said the announcement would coincide with the declaration of the Tun Mustapha marine park in the middle of the year.

He said the state had no choice but to use state laws to protect Sabahs shark population when a request to the federal government to amend the Fisheries Act to protect marine creature was rejected.

We only asked for shark hunting to be banned in Sabah, not in other states, said Masidi, adding he was not afraid of being politically incorrect in the name of protecting the states natural heritage.

Last September Agriculture and Agro-Based Industry Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Shabery Cheek said that the Sabah governments request for a ban on shark hunting and finning in the state was unnecessary.

He said sharks, unlike tuna, were accidentally caught by fishermen in Malaysian waters. This indicated that shark hunting and the finning industry did not exist in Malaysia.

Masidi also said sharks are endangered and should be protected. Sharks are vital to Sabah’s diving industry and earned the state about RM364 million in 2014.

In line with this, the Sabah State Government is urging all parties to collaborate with the Sabah Shark Protection Association and partners to take urgent action to minimise the effects of seafood consumption to our marine biodiversity.