Sabah Ban on shark fins next year

26 June 2011, my Sarawak – News coverage around Sarawak.

KOTA KINABALU: Sabah is looking to impose a total ban on shark fin dish, most likely by next year.

Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Masidi Manjun said his ministry was currently looking into a suitable buffer period to allow traders and food operators in the State to clear their stock before introducing the new law.

“Sabah is on course to initiate a proper legislation to eventually ban shark fin. Our immediate goal is to stop altogether shark finning, hopefully by end of the year.

“But of course we will look into a suitable time frame that is comfortable to everyone before implementing it,” he said when officiating the closing of the Malaysian Association of Hotels (MAH) Environmental Week at Tanjung Aru Beach, yesterday.

Masidi said the State Government preferred not to resort to legislation but wanted the food and tourism industry to stop serving shark fin voluntarily.

However, the fact that 80 per cent of the shark population was already gone due to excessive fishing which is closely linked to shark finning, calls for a concerted effort to be taken, he said.

“I have made my appeal to the industry to stop serving shark fin simply because I feel it is the right way forward. There has been a strong support to the idea, although there were also some objections.

“But the people in Sabah must come out strong to make their stand known. In order for it to be truly effective, the effort to put a stop to shark finning must come from the ground, one that start from the people,” he said, adding that more focus would be given on educating the public on the issue.

Masidi noted that shark fin was usually served during wedding receptions at hotels in Sabah and his ministry was hoping to create a strong awareness that future couples would insist the item  be taken out from the menu for their functions.

Environmentalist groups and non-governmental organizations in Sabah have been calling for the ban on shark fin, claiming the species is almost completely wiped out from the State waters.

Shark finning, which has long been blamed for the losses of the shark population worldwide, refers to the removal and retention of shark fins and the discarding of the rest of the fish.

It usually takes place at sea so the fishers have only the fins to transport as shark meat is considered low value and therefore not worth the cost of taking them to the market.

The shark is most often still alive when tossed back into the water. Unable to swim, the shark slowly sinks toward the bottom where it is eaten alive by other fish.

Shark finning is widespread, and largely unmanaged and unmonitored, with specialists estimating that 100 million sharks are killed for their fins annually.

It is a multi-billion dollar industry where a pound of dried shark fin can retail for USD300 or more. Any shark is taken-regardless of age, size, or species.



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