After a forum post showing shark finning on Mabul near Sipadan that we told you about on February 2nd, the diving community made enough fuss about it for the local authorities to sit up and notice.
A reporter and diver from a Malaysian national daily, New Straits Times, wrote an article about the forum thread telling of the diving community’s outrage over the photos allegedly depicting a shark finning operation on the island of Mabul, not far from Sipadan. The graphic photo from the forum appears along-side the article.
The article also outlined replies from the Director of Fisheries, who said that shark-finning, provided it fell within the fishermen’s licenses, is not illegal, whilst the Sabah Tourism Minister said protecting local resources and the image of Sabah were important.
This clearly set the inter-departmental ball rolling, because on Tuesday, a Sabah daily paper, Daily Express, published this article detailing discussions by the Semporna Tourism Action Council (STAC), which is made up of members from the Tourism, Culture and Environment Ministry, Sabah Parks, Sabah Fisheries and Sabah Tourism Board. Members from WWF Malaysia and local tourism stakeholders are also represented.
Whilst the opening paragraph of the article states that STAC is proposing a ban on shark fishing and finning, it concludes with the council rather toying with the idea of restoring the shark population to establish whether shark fishing and finning could be sustainable if guided by a National Plan of Action – in which case, they reason, banning it would not be necessary.
In the final paragraph it then says “while thanking the public for their concern, the council felt that the issue had been blown out of proportion, which could effect the local communities that depend on tourism for their livelihood.”
How does the saying go? You can’t have your shark fin and eat it?