KOTA KINABALU: A move by Sabah to enact its own laws to ban the hunting and finning of sharks may result in such enactments eventually being challenged.
State Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Seri Masidi Manjun said there was a possibility that a state law would be declared as having no effect.
“Our officers are studying the relevant laws, taking into account that federal law is supreme,” he told The Star yesterday.
“The state can only enact its own law if such legislation does not contradict with any existing provision in the Federal Fisheries Act that is currently enforced in Sabah.”
Masidi said that no state law to ban shark hunting and finning could stand up in court if it overrides provisions in the Fisheries Act which does not make such actions an offence.
“The reason is simple. Federal law takes precedence over state law.
“Any person charged under state law could apply for a court declaration that the state law is void because it goes against the provisions of a federal law,” Masidi said.
“The Fisheries Act needs to be amended to allow Sabah to enact its own law against shark finning.”
He added that Sabah could be excluded from certain provisions of the Act that would allow it to enact its own law.
There is mounting pressure from international and local conservationists on the Sabah government to amend the Fisheries Act to ban shark hunting and finning.
Agriculture and Agro-based Industry Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Shabery Cheek, however, saw amendements to the Act as unnecessary.
He had said that Sabah was free to amend its state laws to ban shark hunting, but federal regulations would remain.
The state Fisheries Department was outside the Federal Government’s jurisdiction, making it possible for the state to enact its own law on shark hunting, he said.
Ahmad Shabery had also said that out of the 67 shark species, of which 48 could be found in Sabah waters, only two were considered endangered – whale shark and sawfish.