PETALING JAYA: Malaysia plays a significant role in the global shark trade and was amongst the top ten importers and exporters of shark fin globally from 2000-2009.
It is also a major consumer of shark fin, as well as exporter of shark fins to international markets according to a study by wildlife trade networking network Traffic that was co-authored by Victoria Mundy-Taylor and Vicki Crook.
Traffic's study entitled into the deep: implementing CITES measures for commercially-valuable sharks and manta rays said "Malaysia imported 6,896 tonnes of sharks fins (dried, prepared and salted) from 2000-2009, the fourth highest importer globally."
"Malaysia also caught 231,212tonnes of sharks from 2002 to 2011," which is the eighth highest globally, accounting for 2.9% of the total global reported shark catch during that period.
The top shark catchers between 2002 and 2011 were Indonesia and India who are responsible for over 20% of global catches.
Traffic said that while the situation could have changed since the study period was concluded, data covering the 10 years was generally considered a good indication of trends.
It added that as a signatory to the CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora), Malaysia has an international obligation to implement measures intended to ensure the international trade in products of the shark species protected under the Convention is both legal and sustainable.
“This may be facilitated by the introduction of requirements to land sharks whole, that is with their fins attached to their bodies, enabling species caught to be accurately identified, a prerequisite for understanding the catches of various species and therefore for determining sustainable levels of harvest,” said Traffic.
It added that as a significant consumer of shark fin, Malaysia should focus efforts on curbing demand for and discouraging the serving of these products.
Currently, there is no ban on shark trading in Malaysia although Sabah is contemplating banning shark hunting and “finning” under its wildlife conservation laws.
Sabah wants to have the same legal provision for the state to be included in the federal Fisheries Act 1985. The draft amendment was submitted to the Federal Government last year.