MIRI: Fishing vessels casting their trawler nets offshore Miri must exercise extra caution as the South China Sea is a migratory route for whale sharks and other sea creatures.
These gentle giants of the oceans pass by here annually during the shrimp seasons en route to other parts of the world.
Sarawak Tourism Assistant Minister Datuk Lee Kim Shin said he is sad to note that another whale shark had died offshore Miri.
“I have spoken to the Fisheries Department to warn local fishermen to be extra careful.
“There are protected and rare marine creatures in our waters. The whale shark is one of those that come here during their annual migration through the oceans.
“These creatures are rare and are a tourism asset.
“Fishermen have to be extra careful to avoid casting their nets where these whale sharks are found,” he said.
Social media pictures of a huge whale shark being unloaded by fishermen two days ago at a fishing jetty in Miri had caused a stir – with public thinking it was illegally caught.
The whale shark is a totally protected species and is endangered in Sarawak waters.
A huge whale shark found dead after being entangled in fishermen’s nets offshore Miri.
The pictures made their rounds and many concerned nature-lovers vented their sadness that such a harmless and magnificent creature had died in tragic circumstances.
StarMetro checked with the Sarawak Forestry Corporation (SFC) headquarters in Kuching, which confirmed that the Miri fishing company had said the whale shark was caught unintentionally.
“Our SFC enforcement unit went to the jetty to check. The fishing crew said the whale shark was already dead when brought to shore after it got stuck in their fishing nets.
“The SFC personnel had taken away the carcass and buried it,” said the senior communications officer Susan Yek.
The whale shark weighed about 1.5 tonnes and measured more than 3m long.
Malaysian Nature Society Miri chairman Musa Musbah said it is yet another tragic incident involving rare creatures in the state.
“All licenced fishermen should know which marine creatures can be harvested.
“If indeed it was caught by accident then the fishing crew did the right thing to report to the authorities.
“Still, it is yet another sad incident involving the death of a beautiful rare creature in Miri,” he said.
There have been similar cases in Miri before of other rare marine creatures like dolphins ending up dead due to fishing incidents.
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