Kota Kinabalu: State Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister, Datuk Masidi Manjun, remains firm in his desire to see a ban on shark fishing and finning introduced in Sabah.
He reasoned that if such a step was not taken now, sharks would inevitably go extinct even with a sanctuary in place and this would affect the livelihood of future generations.
“At the rate we are catching sharks in our waters, I believe they will go extinct even during our lifetime.
“The choice is basically postponing (sanctuary) the eventual and inevitable wiping of the shark population in Sabah or making life adjustments to save them,” he told Daily Express, Saturday.
Nevertheless, he pointed out there is no ban on both shark fishing and hunting yet in Sabah waters. “In the first place there is no ban yetÉthe proposed law or its details is not even in place.
“But if we don’t do anything now, the sharks would inevitably disappear altogether and the issue of some people losing their livelihood then becomes irrelevant. By then there would be no sharks to catch and those claiming that their livelihood is going to be affected by the proposed ban would be worse off.
“But even worse is that we would have also killed our dive industry which is one of our biggest tourism earners annually and probably even more in the future,” he said.
“We are leaving a legacy in terms of economic opportunity for the future generations to partake and benefit. I believe that one of the roles of any responsible government is to add value to what have so that the future generations would have a better world to live in.”
Besides, he said the anti-shark killing movement all over the world is gaining momentum and have started to urge tourists to boycott countries that allow shark hunting.
“I cant imagine the economic toll, especially on the State’s tourism industry if they carry out their threat,” he said.
He said if the sharks become extinct, “they (who are against the proposed ban) will not only have lost their livelihood from shark finning and shark hunting but we would have also killed the dive industry that earns the State millions annually.
“Not to mention loss of pro-sharks tourists who would stop coming to Sabah,” he said. I hope we take into consideration the future well being of our people and the State by planning good policy now.
The proposed shark ban, which created a stir among some quarters, including, restaurants, had its draft resolution endorsed by the State Cabinet last March. But it still needs a federal endorsement before it could be enforced and that requires amendments to the Fisheries act.
A public forum was held to gather thoughts of people in the industry by the State Fisheries Department at the Tun Mustapha Mini Theatre on April 4.
The proposed ban encountered opposition from restaurant operators on Friday, who suggested the Government accept the sanctuary proposal and impose bans only on tourist spots. Pan Malaysia Koo Soo Restaurant and Chefs Association Chairman, Lim Vun Chan said the ban would do no good for the local economy.
“It is unfair for the government to try to impose the ban without discussing with those affected by the move,” he said.
Lim said in fact, Semporna tourism have not done much for its people since, tourists would only go straight to the jetty for the islands and back once they touch ground. Lim claimed that proprietors would leave no parts of the sharks go to waste and not as claimed by some activists that sharks are being killed only for its fins.
The idea of a shark sanctuary came about after British shark expert, Rohan Perkins who proposed that one way for the State to save its shark is via setting up such mechanism.
He said the shark species found in Sabah is of home-range type, not moving more than 1-5km radius from home and thus setting up a sanctuary would prove to be the safe haven for them.
Source : Daily Express