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July 29, 2011

Don calls for Shark Sanctuaries

By DURIE RAINER FONG
durie@thestar.com.my

KOTA KINABALU: Shark sanctuaries should be created in waters off Sabah to conserve its depleting population.

Shark expert Prof Steve Oakley said the effort would help complement the state government's plan to ban shark fin fishing by the year's end.

Although awareness on shark conservation was picking up, he said demand for shark fin soup, a popular Chinese delicacy, remained high in the state.

“The bigger hotels are moving in the right direction but some still serve shark fin especially for wedding receptions while seafood restaurants serve them when they are forced to,” he added.

He said there were three vital components in shark conservation awareness, law and enforcement.

“Awareness depends on people like us and non-governmental organisations and the fact that the state government has said they will change the law on fishing of sharks in Sabah is fantastic,” said Oakley after a cheque presentation ceremony by the Sabah Anglers Association (SAA).

“But we also need enforcement. We need shark sanctuaries in Sabah where small areas are 100% protected. We need to make sharks as protected as the orang utan.”

One good example of shark conservation was by the Sabah Parks in the Tunku Abdul Rahman marine park where sighting of black tip reef sharks have increased as opposed to the past.

But generally, he said the shark population in Sabah waters had dwindled drastically over the years, with unofficial figures claiming 98% of the state's sharks have vanished since 1996.

He said Sabah had 118 species of sharks but only 19 species had been seen in Sabah fish markets.

Earlier, the SAA presented a cheque for RM1,260 to the Tanjung Aru Junior Chamber International (JCI) in support of their “Say No to Shark Fin” awareness programme.

Tanjung Aru JCI launched the programme, which is in collaboration with the Green Connection, an aquarium and science discovery centre run by Oakley, early this year.

SAA president Datuk Wilfred Linghamsaid although the amount was small, the association hoped this could help shark conservation efforts in Sabah, urging others to join in.

 

 

  
 
 
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