PUTRAJAYA: The Fisheries Department today denied a report by Traffic, the wildlife trade monitoring network, that Malaysia ranked eighth in netting sharks in the world.
It said the report, released by Traffic last Sept 11, that Malaysia caught an average of 21,459 tonnes of sharks a year between 2007 and 2017 was inaccurate as the figure included landing of stingray.
“The average shark catch from 2007 to 2017 was only 7,027 tonnes per year, which is 0.4% of Malaysia’s total marine catch,” it said.
According to the department, sharks are not the main target species for fishing activities, but they are caught with other commercial fish by trawlers, driftnets, traps and hooks.
The department, it said, was drafting a conservation and management plan for sharks to ensure continuity in fish management, as well as to recognise six marine protected areas in Sabah as shark sanctuaries.
It said the department had also developed “non-detriment findings” (NDFs) of shark for the Sphyrna lewini species and also enforced the “zero quota”, which is to prohibit trade or export of shark species, made under the Convention on International Trade of Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).
The department had also imposed additional conditions for fishing licence and fishing gear by prohibiting the licence holders from cutting off shark’s fins or having the shark’s fins on board their fishing vessels.
“As part of the efforts to control and monitor the exploitation of shark’s resources, courses to identify sharks and stingray are held every year for enforcement agencies,” it added.
According to the department, there are 68 shark species found in Malaysian waters , where efficient management of resources, the marine ecosystems and coastal areas contribute to the survival of the fish.
There are five shark species protected under the Fisheries Act 1985 and the Fisheries (Control of Endangered Species of Fish) Regulations 1999, namely the whale shark (Rhincodon typus), oceanic whitetip shark (Carcharhinus longimanus), great hammerhead shark (Sphyrna mokarran), smooth hammerhead shark (Sphyrna zygaena) and winghead shark (Eusphyra blochii ).
It said the agriculture and agro-based industry ministry had also launched a campaign against serving shark’s fin at government’s official functions since 2014.