KOTA KINABALU: The Sabah government is getting a helping hand from the federal Fisheries Department to set up shark sanctuaries in waters around the state.
The department is helping to identify locations for the proposed sanctuaries, but reiterated that Sabah is not a major shark landing point in the country.
It said in a statement that shark landings in the state between 2000 and 2013 amounted to just over 1,810 tonnes; or 23% of the 7,735 tonnes of marine creatures caught in the country during that period.
It said that the setting up of the sanctuaries was part of the National Plan of Action on Sharks.
The department added that sharks were not intentionally hunted in Malaysia, but instead were caught with other commercial species in fishing nets or lines.
In addition, the department insisted that all parts of the shark body were harvested or processed for food.
Its teeth are made into souvenirs and its bones are used for medicinal purposes.
To ensure that sharks were sustainably harvested, the department had never issued any specific licences to catch the creature.
Shark finning is also banned.
The department’s statement came in the wake of the discovery of hundreds of shark fins being dried in the open outside a shop in Kota Kinabalu on Oct 29.
A conservation NGO said this was further evidence of the marine creatures being intentionally hunted.
Last month, Agriculture and Agro-Based Industry Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Shabery Cheek said Sabah’s request for a ban on shark hunting and finning in the state was unnecessary.
State Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Masidi Manjun said the Sabah government accepted and respected the Federal Government’s decision not to amend the Fisheries Act and ban shark hunting and finning activities.
However, he said the state would push for the setting up of more shark sanctuaries.