KOTA KINABALU: Sabah is set to declare three of its marine parks as shark sanctuaries by mid-2016 in a bid to protect the endangered marine creatures, state Tourism, Culture and Environment minister Datuk Masidi Manjun said.
He said the Tun Sakaran marine park in Semporna district, Tunku Abdul Rahman marine park here and the proposed Tun Mustapha marine park in Kudat would be declared shark sanctuaries.
“These marine parks cover a total area of some 2mil hectares and is home to about 80% of our shark population,” said Masidi after launching the My Fin My Life campaign to reduce shark fin consumption and promote sustainable seafood here on Sunday.
He said the move to ban shark fishing at the marine parks would hopefully increase the shark population.
Masidi said his ministry’s officers were finalising documents to be tabled during the state Cabinet meeting for the three marine parks to be gazetted as shark sanctuaries.
He said the announcement would coincide with the declaration of the Tun Mustapha marine park in the middle of the year.
He said the state had no choice but to use state laws to protect Sabah’s shark population when a request to the Federal government to amend the Fisheries Act to protect marine creature was rejected.
“We only asked for shark hunting to be banned in Sabah, not in other states,” said Masidi, adding he was not afraid of being “politically incorrect” in the name of protecting the state’s natural heritage.
Last September Agriculture and Agro-Based Industry Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Shabery Cheek said that the Sabah government’s request for a ban on shark hunting and finning in the state was unnecessary.
He said sharks, unlike tuna, were accidentally caught by fishermen in Malaysian waters. This indicated that shark hunting and the finning industry did not exist in Malaysia.