Gory pictures of shark finning, said to have taken place in Sabah’s Mabul island (near Sipadan island), have emerged.
The pictures, which were originally taken by one Facebook user named Chung Wui Tang and reposted via the Danau Girang Field Centre Facebook page, have been making rounds on social media, show sharks floating in bloodied waters after having their fins removed.
As seen in the above screenshot, Chung Wui Tang’s original post indicates that the pictures were taken in Sabah’s popular tourist island on 18th July 2016. Chung Wui Tang’s post have since been shared over 450 times while Danau Girang Field Centre’s post has over 1,560 shares.
Conservation research group Danau Girang Field Centre director Dr Benoit Goossens expressed outrage on Facebook, urging consumers to stop eating shark fin soup. “The massacre has to stop! 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. We beg the consumers, stop eating shark fin soup!” he said.
In shark finning (the removal of shark fins), sharks are often returned to the ocean alive after their fins are “harvested”. Unable to move effectively, these sharks will then die a slow and painful death when they sink to the bottom of the ocean and either starve to death, are eaten alive by other fish, or die of suffocation (if they are not in constant movement their gills cannot extract oxygen from the water).
Needless to say, the images of the massacre have horrified netizens and infuriated environmentalists, including state Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Seri Masidi Manjun. Masidi, who has been advocating shark protection in Sabah’s waters and fighting to get shark killing and shark fin soup banned in Sabah, denounced the heinous act.
Enraged netizens have also condemned the act, with one saying, “These people don’t know how costly their actions will to their very own future generations. They are ones who are dependent to the marine ecological system, and they are the ones who are gonna be sorry most. These ppl need to be educated.”
“This is completely unacceptable. I have been here, and this is supposed to be a place for marine life. I have also seen this village, and I watched the people, who are wicked poor, beating on one another, and now here we see this. It is an emergency for both humans and the environment,” another user commented.
Unfortunately as there are currently no proper laws against shark finning in the state, shark killers can’t be prosecuted.
In their statement, they said that the Sabah Fisheries Department has made an investigation on 19th July 2016 and found that the claim that the existence of shark finning activities in the island resort is not true. The department clarified that the fish were cut in Pulau Mabul, which is the “landing base”, as fisherman use sea water to clean the fish because of the shortage of fresh water.
The fish parts are then inserted into fish barrels to be taken to Semporna (a town located in Tawau, Sabah) and all parts of the body, including the skin of sharks, are used by fishermen either as food or processed for other uses such as teeth and bones as gifts to medicine.
The department also said that the sharks are not the main target species in fishing activities but an unintentional by-catch with other commercial fish species, adding that Sabah’s Fisheries Department has included “prohibition of activities shark finning, namely the cutting or possession of shark fins on board fishing vessels at the local and the dumping of sharks bodies into the sea” as an additional condition of license and fishing equipment for fishermen with effect from February 25, 2014.
Read their full statement below:
What are your thoughts about the statement? Do you think that there should be tighter laws against shark killing in Malaysia?