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Press Contact: David McGuire Sharksteward(at)gmail.com
The Sabah Shark Protection association confirmed today that photographs of sharks slaughtered and finned have come from the dive tourist destination Pulau Mabul in the Semporna region of Sabah Malaysia and near the Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park.
“This kind of senseless shark slaughter is adding to the rapid decline of sharks while we are fighting to save them, and it sends a bad message to tourists diving Sabah. For the sake of the local marine ecology and economy, this has to stop.” said David McGuire, Director of the US based non profit group Shark Stewards and a member of the Sabah Shark Protection Association.
The images of bloody sharks and piles of fins in the Semporna region have been splashed across Facebook and social media creating international outrage among the conservation and dive community. These images recall similar images taken by tourists on Pulau Mabul and repeats the cry from the Sabah Shark Protection Association is to immediately increase shark protection in Sabah.
“Shark harvesting is still happening in Sabah, and Sabah desperately needs her sharks for tourism and environment. The clock is ticking for Sabah’s sharks and like any species decimation, there’s no rewind button to reverse the effects,” said Aderick Chong, Chairman of the Sabah Shark Protection Association in a separate statement.
Shark Stewards is one of many groups supporting Sabah Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Seri Masidi Manjun and urges the Federal Fisheries Minister to take notice that there is problem of overfishing sharks and trading fins in Malaysia. “There is a shark problem. The problem is too much killing and sales of shark fin,” added McGuire.
Earlier this year, after similar images surfaced, Agriculture and Agro-Based Industry Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Shabery Cheek had said that the Sabah government’s request for a ban on shark hunting and finning in Sabah was unnecessary. The SSPA disputes this claim by collecting data and images of shark catch and the fin trade in Sabah.
Shark populations in Malaysia are mirroring the world’s decline, with the exception of a few important areas like Semporna. Some islands like Sipadan still host healthy populations of large fish and sharks, and tourists pay good money to dive with them.
A scientific study conducted in 2012 by the Australian Institute of Marine Science in Semporna indicates one reef shark is worth over 3.3 Million RM ($815,000 US) to the local economy in its lifetime through ecotourism services. This is a stark contrast to the few hundred ringgits the fisherman is paid for the fins and meat.
Joining the Sabah Shark Protection Association, Shark Stewards is urging the Federal government to allow for statewide control and increase shark protection in Sabah and calls for an overall reduction in the shark fin trade in Malaysia.
“Overfishing sharks and the shark fin trade are killing our precious ocean ecosystems, and threatens the growing tourism economy in Semporna. The SSPA and Minister Masidi know that sharks are worth more alive than dead,” said McGuire. “Will the Federal government listen?”
The Sabah Shark Protection Association is a registered organization based in Sabah, Malaysia. Member organizations include LEAP, Malaysian Conservation Society, Malaysian Nature Society, Scuba Junkie, ScubaZoo, Shark Stewards, Tropical Research and Conservation Centre and World wildlife Fund for Nature, Malaysia.
The goal of the SSPA is to strengthen legal protection & conservation of sharks & rays in Malaysia