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Malaysian state plans to make shark finning illegal

By Lucy Brake - 10 May 2011 8:39:1 GMT
Malaysian state plans to make shark finning illegal

Shark finning is a lucrative industry as many countries enjoy it as a delicacy but has recently caught the attention of the world and now the Sabah state government is concerned that the barbaric slaughter of sharks for their fins is damaging their tourism industry.

A Malaysian newspaper, The Star, reported this week that Sabah is likely to be the first state to ban shark hunting for their fins in a bid to protect the marine creature.

Ammendments will be required to the Sabah State Wildlife Protection Ordinance, but the state government is hoping they can have the ban introduced by the end of this year.

Shark populations in Sabah are reaching critical levels with only 20 per cent of the population believed to be still alive.

''From my last briefing, there are only four areas in Sabah where sharks can be spotted' said the State Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister, Datuk Masdi Manjun. ''If we don’t do something about it, the population may disappear from our waters completely''.

Shark fin soup is still a highly prized dish in Malaysia and educating people to choose not to eat it for conservation purposes will be a big part of efforts to save the sharks. Manjun noted that the state government has now taken shark fin soup off the menu at all its official functions.

In response to the proposed ban, the restaurant industry in Sabah questioned the government's plan. Reporting again on the story the following day, The Star said that the Sabah Restaurant Association described the proposal as ''not making sense'' and that many local fishermen depended on shark harvesting for their skins, bones and flesh as well as their fins.

The Sabah state government will now spend the next few months looking at all sides to this story as it prepares its amendments to legislation.