SSPA to work with Government to identify More Sharks, Rays for Protection Listing
The SSPA congratulated the Sabah Government and the State Fisheries Department who in April proposed four shark and two ray species to be included in the Regulations.
SSPA Chairman Aderick Chong said this is a positive next step at a time when civil society, the scientific community, tourism industry and government continue to witness alarming rates of shark and ray landings, including endangered species.
The Department has decided to list the great hammerhead shark, smooth hammerhead shark, winghead shark, oceanic whitetip shark, oceanic manta and reef manta under the Regulations, which protect a list of animals including several species of dolphins, whales, dugongs and clams.
The Regulations currently only protects the whale shark and sawfish, states that no person shall fish for, disturb, harass, catch, kill, take, possess, sell, buy, export or transport any of the specified endangered species except with written permission from the Director-General of Fisheries.
Chong said it is hoped that the six species, which are listed under the Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), are finalized quickly as part of the Malaysian regulation.
“We are keen to continue our support for Federal and State agencies to ensure these species are listed within this year. We were present at the multi-stakeholder consultation to discuss this list and we view this as a positive step in attaining protection for sharks and rays in Sabah waters,” he said.
The SSPA also hopes the scalloped hammerhead, silky shark, three species of thresher sharks and nine species of devil rays - which are listed on Appendix II of CITES, will be afforded similar protection.
“These species always feature high on the wish list of divers, particularly scalloped hammerheads and devil rays, with many divers attracted to Sabah in the hope of encountering one of these incredible animals. Sadly, they are being landed on a daily basis so we need the government to act now before they disappear forever.
“SSPA wants to work with the government to explore which other species might benefit from such protection and on the enforcement of laws that regulate activities related to sharks and rays,” he said.
Chong said this in a statement to mark the International Shark Awareness Day on July 14, adding that the event is an opportunity to celebrate the great diversity of sharks and rays in Sabah’s waters.
To mark the awareness day, SSPA carried out a fun-filled programme to help children at Yuk Yu Kindergarten in Likas learn why they need to care about sharks and rays.
Based on information from the Fisheries Department, there are 48 shark and 65 ray species in Sabah in comparison to 70 shark and 85 ray species in Malaysia, which points at the significance of the Bornean state as a habitat for these animals.
The Department revealed that sharks and rays landed are in the form of bycatch with almost half coming from trawlers. Sharks and rays are also caught using methods such as ‘rawai’ (long liner), fishing lines, gill nets and fish traps.
SSPA comprises Land Empowerment Animals People (LEAP), Malaysian Nature Society (Sabah branch), Marine Conservation Society (MCS), Scuba Junkie SEAS, Shark Stewards, Scubazoo, Tropical Research and Conservation Centre (TRACC) and WWF-Malaysia.
- End -
For more information, please contact:
President, Sabah Shark Protection Association
Mobile: +6016-830 6828
Senior Communications and Campaigns Officer, Marine Programme, WWF-Malaysia
Tel: +60 88 262 420