Kuala Lumpur: State Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Masidi Manjun hopes Sabah – known for its world-class dive sites – will be able to ban shark fishing to protect the species by the end of the year. Sharks are mainly hunted for their fins to make soup. “We want to make sure that the ban is a blanket ban of all types of sharks in Sabah,” he told AFP. “Tourists come to see the rich variety of marine life that we have in Sabah, and that includes sharks. It makes economic sense for us to protect our sharks,” he added. “The moment they are gone, people will go elsewhere.”
Masidi said 42,000 divers, two-thirds of them foreigners, visited Sabah last year, bringing in more than RM190 million in revenue. He said the State is currently consulting with Malaysia’s Attorney General to change a federal law to introduce the ban for Sabah. He added that over the past 25 years, some 80 percent of the state’s sharks had disappeared and they could now only be spotted at four sites.
Masidi could not say how much the trade in shark’s fin was worth. But a bowl of the soup, which is considered a delicacy in parts of Asia, especially among Chinese diners, can easily cost more than RM100, he said. In 2007, Malaysia’s Natural Resources and Environment Ministry struck shark’s fin soup off menus at official functions to help conserve the species. Traffic, an international network that monitors the trade in wildlife, said early this year that Malaysia was the world’s 10th biggest catcher of sharks. Worldwide up to 73 million sharks are killed every year, primarily for their fins, it said.
Daily Express – August 30, 2011