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Catsharks ending up on dinner plates: NGO
Published on: Tuesday, February 13, 2024
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Catsharks ending up on dinner plates: NGO
Sim said they are aware that only certain shark and ray species are protected under the federal law Fisheries Act 1985. Right: Coral catshark (Pic: Iain Fraser/Flickr)
Kota Kinabalu: A local dive club said endangered marine species being sold at local markets in Sabah is a cause for concern.

Deus Diving Club (DDC) President Sim Fui said they are aware that only certain shark and ray species are protected under the federal law Fisheries Act 1985.

Thus, the rest of the species are allowed to be caught, sold or consumed.

He said catsharks were being sold openly at a seafood restaurant in Tuaran and another with white spots on body was on sale at a market here.

Catsharks sold at a seafood restraurant in Tuaran. (Photo courtesy of Mira Ambu)

On July 17, 2019, four shark species and two manta ray species gained country-wide protection under the Federal Fisheries (Control of Endangered Species of Fish) Regulations 1999, Fisheries Act 1985.

They are the great hammerhead shark (Sphyrna mokarran), smooth hammerhead shark (Sphyrna zygaena), winghead shark (Eusphyra blochii), oceanic whitetip shark (Carcharhinus longimanus), giant oceanic manta (Manta birostris) and reef manta (Manta alfredi).

“As divers, we understand the critical role sharks and rays play in maintaining the balance of our oceans. They are not only majestic creatures but also vital components of marine biodiversity. 

“Divers do not mind paying to see those species underwater. But seeing them on sale at the markets will deter them coming to Sabah,” he said. 

“We hope the Sabah elected representatives will help protect marine species by introducing and advocating for legislation that safeguards these animals and their habitats. 

Fish body parts with white spots found at a night market in Foh Sang (photo courtesy of Ho Kwan Fung).

“Enhanced legal protection and strict enforcement are essential to curb illegal fishing activities and prevent further exploitation of vulnerable species,” he said.  

The club has about 100-member of diverse backgrounds and professions who value collaboration and collective action in addressing environmental challenges. 

He urged the public to report sightings of endangered marine species to relevant authorities and conservation organisations.  

“By working together, we can raise awareness, gather crucial data, and take meaningful steps towards preserving our precious marine heritage for future generations,” he said.

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