'Massacre has to stop'
Photos of shark hunting in Sabah anger environmentalists
It is not possible to stop the killing of sharks for their fins as there is no law prohibiting hunting of the marine creature there, said a Sabah minister.
Sabah Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Masidi Manjun said because of this, photos of sharks supposedly being hunted and finned in Sabah's east coast would continue to surface, The Star reported.
He was responding to photos of shark finning said to have been taken in the dive haven of Mabul, off Sabah's famed Sipadan island. The pictures have been circulating online and have enraged environmentalists.
Conservation research group Danau Girang Field Centre director Benoît Goossens, who posted on its Facebook page, said it was incomprehensible to think that such an act was allowed to be carried out there, Malay Mail Online reported.
The photos were supposedly taken on July 16, reports said.
Asked if state authorities were aware of the killing, Mr Masidi said: "What difference does it make when there is no law against it?
"The photos speaks volumes of what I and many other Sabahans have been advocating for the last five years."
He added that he had given his thoughts on the problems many times in the past.
Dr Goossens said: "The massacre has to stop. It is crazy to think that it is happening a few miles from the best diving spots where divers go to see sharks.
"I think Sabah should make a stand and put sharks under special protection in Sabah's waters and enforce it.
"Sharks attract divers from all over the world to Sabah, it is a huge tourism industry bringing millions to the state. Sabah needs to get its own law, ban shark killing and finning, and enforce the law in its waters."
Following reports of an 80 per cent decline of sharks in its waters, the state has been pushing for the federal government to ban shark hunting and finning by amending its Fisheries Act.
But its three-year proposal was dismissed, claiming that shark hunting was not a huge business in the state.
The Sabah Shark Protection Association said a law banning shark hunting was just as important as having sanctuaries, The Star reported.
Its chairman Aderick Chong added that without such laws, shark hunting would continue.
Malaysia is currently the world's ninth-largest shark producer.
Conservation organisation Traffic reported that more than 231 tonnes of sharks were caught in Malaysia between 2002 and 2011, accounting for 2.9 per cent of the total globally-reported shark catch.
Fisheries statistics also showed a decreasing amount of sharks being caught each year since 2003, indicating a decline in its population.
Mr Masidi has since said that the state will enforce its own shark sanctuary through its marine parks soon.
The Tun Sakaran marine park in Semporna, Tunku Abdul Rahman marine park fronting the state capital and the proposed Tun Mustapha marine park in Kudat would be declared shark sanctuaries.
The three parks total about 2 million hectares and is home to about 80 per cent of the state's shark population.
The Tun Mustapha marine park is set to be launched on Sunday.