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Sunday May 8, 2011

Sabah may be the first state to ban shark hunting

KOTA KINABALU: Sabah is likely to be the first state to ban shark hunting for their fins in a bid to protect the marine creature.

The state government is now studying the legal aspects of the proposed ban which would require amendments to the State Wildlife Protection Ordinance with the aim of introducing it by the end of the year.

State Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Masidi Manjun said the situation was becoming critical for this marine creature as only 20% of its original population was still left in the country.

“From my last briefing, there are only four areas in Sabah where sharks can be spotted.

“If we don't do something about it, the population may disappear from our waters completely,” Masidi said yesterday.

Masidi said he was told by experts that the sharks no longer existed in peninsular Malaysia waters.

He said the state attorney-general was now studying the matter.

He added that the state government was working with non-governmental groups to educate the public on the need to protect sharks from “disappearing” entirely.

“We understand the sensitivities involved as it is a must for some people to serve shark fin soup during weddings. But what we are trying to do is to educate the people to skip the dish for conservation's sake,” he said, adding that it would also get Malaysia Airports Berhad to bar retailers from selling shark fins in airports in the state.

The state government, he added, had also taken shark fin soup off the menu of its official functions.

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