Marine parks declared as sanctuaries to protect sharks

KOTA KINABALU — The Sabah government’s move to declare three marine parks as shark sanctuaries is a “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 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,” he told reporters at his ministry’s Hari Raya open house.

“The next best thing we can do is declare marine parks as shark sanctuaries to make it illegal to catch sharks there.”

On Tuesday, 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,” he said.

“The state earns around RM300 million from the diving industry every year. Most divers come here to observe the sharks.”

Masidi said 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 Mustapha Marine Park in Kudat will be formally launched on 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

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