Sabah State Government and Sabah Shark Protection Association Launch My Fin My Life Campaign to Save Sharks
Malaysia is ranked as the world’s 9th largest producer of shark products and 3rd largest importer in volume terms, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (State of the Global Market for Shark Products report, 2015). 84% of these imported shark fins were consumed domestically. Between 2004 and 2011, an average of 1,384 metric tonnes of imported shark fins were consumed annually in Malaysia. In the past ten years, the volume of shark fin consumption has increased by an average of 54% per year. 2004 was a significant year, as we increased our fin consumption from 38 to 366 metric tonnes in just one year, and we have increased steadily our fin import to 3,072 metric tonnes in 2011.
Speaking at the launch ceremony, YB Datuk Seri Panglima Masidi Manjun, Minister of Tourism, Culture and Environment said, “Sharks are endangered and should be protected. Sharks are vital to Sabah's diving industry and earned the state about RM364 million in 2014.”
In line with this, the Sabah State Government is urging all parties to collaborate with Sabah Shark Protection Association and partners to take urgent action to minimise the effects of seafood consumption to our marine biodiversity. “We are calling on Sabahans to take action and not consume shark fin soup or shark products,” said YB Datuk Masidi.
The Sabah State Government proposed to ban shark hunting and finning in the state in 2012, and to stop serving shark fin at official functions. The government will continue to pursue the ban through amendments to the Fisheries Act as well as push for the creation of shark sanctuaries in Sabah.
Stressing the critical need to protect the species, WWF-Malaysia's Executive Director/CEO, Dato' Dr Dionysius Sharma said, “Shark fin is the most valuable shark product. The high demand for shark fin is currently the main driver to unsustainable shark fishing globally. It is estimated that at least 1.4 million tonnes or 100 million sharks are killed per year. Global shark tourism generates revenue of around US$314 million annually and is expected to keep growing to a potential $780 million annually over the next 20 years.”
Sharks are keystone species in the oceans and are at the top of the marine food chain. They keep the fish population in check and healthy by eating old, sick or slower fish, and prevent the potential outbreak of diseases and strengthen the gene pool of the prey species. Only stronger and healthier fish remain to reproduce in greater numbers, which leads to much healthier fish in the seas.
“Sustaining sharks will sustain oceans and seafood. Cutting short sharks’ existence will cut short our own supply of seafood and food security. Thus, shark survival ensures human survival,” concluded Dr Sharma.
Sabah Shark Protection Association President, Aderick Chong, said, “We realise it is not easy to expect consumers to give up their ways, but time is running out for sharks. We have to keep working hard to raise awareness and create stronger partnerships including with the government, the private and hospitality sectors, and academe. When the consumption of sharks stops, the killing stops!”
In addition to the Sabah State Government, SSPA also works in partnership with Kota Kinabalu City Council, Reef Check Malaysia, Shark Savers and Scuba Schools International (SSI) on the My Fin My Life campaign to reach out to a wider audience in Kota Kinabalu. Business and public activities for the campaign are also planned in the Klang Valley and Penang to run until July 2016.
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Note to Editor:
- Take the 'Break the Soup Bowl' challenge at www.myfinmylife.com
For further information:
Kimberly Chung, Senior Communications & Campaigns Officer, Marine Programme, WWF-Malaysia
Tel: +60 88-262-420 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Aderick Chong, President, Sabah Shark Protection Association
Tel: +60 16-830-6828 Email: email@example.com