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Shark finning in Sipadan/Mabul area


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#1 Drew

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Posted 19 January 2009 - 08:46 AM

Recently, a WP member, Syam, was in Mabul staying at The Mabul Backpacker's Lodge. When returning from one of his dives, he saw something that should not be happening in an area where you pay RM40 for park fees in Sipadan. I'll let the pictures speak for themselves:
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Yes, shark finning is happening on Mabul island as resorts are being built non-stop on Mabul and Kapalai for the tourist dollar. In this time of economic crisis, we divers should vote with our money in protecting the sharks from areas that are deemed protected, yet not. Mabul/Kapalai are not part of any marine protected area, but there is a park fee for diving in Sipadan. This fee goes to Sabah Parks, presumably for the protection of Sipadan.
The finners come from a fishing village on the island of Mabul and not attached to the resorts in any way. However, the resorts hire their staff from the islanders, and we are contributing to the resorts. What is the point of paying RM40 to protect Sipadan if the outlying areas will be decimated? At 120 divers per 1/2 day (240 per day), RM9600 a day is being given to Sabah park for the maintenance of the rest area and toilets?
We fully understand that the fishermen are autonomous and deserve the right to make a living. However, when they are making a living on an unsustainable resource, in an area where we tourists pay money to go to see that same particular resource, then the authorities have to decide whether to attract tourism or accede to a short term gain by 5 fishermen.
If the resorts are not contributing to the local community, being via employment, schools or other benefits, then they are also limited in their outlook for the future of tourism in the Ligitan Island group. As diving tourists, why should we contribute to the decline of a beautiful area by supporting the resorts which do not protect their own resources?
In conclusion, we strongly urge the resorts to campaign Sabah Parks to prohibit shark finning in the Ligitan island group area. If the area is not protected, we will choose to dive in other areas of South East Asia where the marine life is protected with the money collected.

As divers please write to these resorts and relevant Malaysian Authorities to ask them to reconsider their position, lest we reconsider how we spend our money. It is also VERY important to keep your emails civilized and non-confrontational, as a calm protest will always garner more respect:

Government authorities:
Minister of Tourism, Malaysia:
YB. Dato' Sri Azalina Dato' Othman Said
menteri@motour.gov.my

General Manager
Sabah Tourism Action Council
mtpnsabah@motour.gov.my

YABI YANGKAT
Director,
Environment Protection Department
yabi.yangkat@sabah.gov.my

Sabah Parks:
sabahparks@sabah.gov.my
sparkshq@tm.net.my

Rayner Stuel Galid
Director of the Department of Fisheries,
Sabah Rayner.Galid@sabah.gov.my
fish.dept@sabah.gov.my

Resorts:

Borneo Divers:
Information@BorneoDivers.info

Sipadan Water Village:
info@swvresort.com

Sipadan Mabul Resort:
mabul@po.jaring.my

Sipadan Kapalai Resort:
rooney@sipadan-kapalai.com
kapalai@tm.net.my

Additional email addresses to follow on:

YB. Dato' Sri Sulaiman Abd. Rahman Abd. Taib
Pejabat Timbalan Menteri Pelancongan (Deputy Minister of Tourism)
tmenteri@motour.gov.my

Ministry of Tourism email Directory

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#2 CADiver

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Posted 19 January 2009 - 09:50 AM

Steal this thread for a second ...

Just saw a program on TV (HDT) "Edge of Existence" by Donal MacIntyre, some of the footage were shot at Mabul island, showing the water village. The program wasn't about killing sharks but rather the edge of existence of the sea gypsy and how they flight for their survial as well. For folks who doesn't get the opportunity to dive Sipadan, Mabul, this is great to get a feel of the what it looks like there. Also offer another perspective on survial, humans too !

Cheers !
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#3 Drew

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Posted 19 January 2009 - 11:30 AM

Survival is right. The Bajau Ubian/Orang laut and Suluk villagers are not recognized to have land rights since they labelled as squatters, as they settled on Mabul during the 70s. That's why there are so many resorts there. Many of them now are now permanently based in Mabul. Some even work for the 4 resorts.
Many of the Bajau are learning to live within marine parks, including growing seaweed and other sustainable sea related cottage industries. They were wiping out many areas of grouper, which is sold to the live seafood trade. Fish stocks in general are down in the areas now designated as marine park areas, like TSMP. So even if they are left alone, they'd need to move after they wipe out the area of saleable fish, which isn't for survival but for profit, especially shark fin. I am very sensitive toward the sea gypsy, since a few of the captains on my fave dive boats in Thailand are sea gypsies.
Still preservation of a culture does not take precedence over wiping out entire eco-systems which not only affects that culture but everyone else. A MPA has been proven to increase fish yields in the outzones once the no-take zones start getting crowded. Many fishing communities with hundreds of years of history in Indonesia have adjusted to marine protected areas and are benefiting from such programs. So why not those on Mabul?

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#4 AMW

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Posted 19 January 2009 - 11:02 PM

Good grief!
Well, this definitely makes sense....I was in Mabul/Sipaden during the same time that Syam was there and even though I did not see the shark finning going on, this comes as no surprise. As my wife just commented, "No wonder why we did not see any sharks outside of the boundaries of Sipaden!" We walked around Mabul multiple times and did not see sharks or fins on the docks, but we were told that this still goes on. Shark jaws are sold in the village on Mabul thus obviously sharks are being poached.
If we had known this prior to booking our trip to Sipaden, we most definitely would not have spent our money there. Thanks for posting the tourism board information...they will be hearing from us.

#5 xariatay

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Posted 20 January 2009 - 12:09 AM

Oh no! I didn't know! :) Have already booked our air tickets to Tawau for May 2009, it will be our 1st trip to Sipadan...

Erm, I think Mabul is still not a MPA & strictly speaking, the locals are not shark finning. I think they will sell the fins for money & eat the shark's meat... I remembered that when we were young, my mum used to cook shark's (or sting ray's) meat with salted vegetables... (But note that shark's products are "banned" in our home since I picked up diving :) )

imho, I think the locals need to learn not to kill the goose to get to the golden eggs... The local politicians should look after the welfare of everyone in their wards, not just those paying taxes. Furthermore, the resorts who are earning the tourists' & divers' dollars, should take up more responsibility to spread the conservation message to the locals & ensure that the locals feel that they are also rewarded by living in a MPA (in terms of jobs, or infrastructure building - education, sanitation etc). I believe the resorts are able to do a good job - 2Fish @ Bunaken is 1 such example...
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#6 AMW

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Posted 20 January 2009 - 12:30 AM

Xariatay,

Besides the shark finning...

Expect to hear dynamite fishing when you are diving in the Sipaden area. I heard (and felt) dynamite charges popping during multiple dives...

#7 wahlaoeh

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Posted 20 January 2009 - 12:46 AM

This is simply Outrageous!! Absolutely criminal, and any enterprise supporting this, directly or indirectly should be boycotted. The act to move all resorts out of the island & the collection of the marine fees to protect the area is plain BS in the first place.

Thanks Drew for posting this. I've linked this thread onto few forums to raise more awareness and hopefully more divers will campaign against shark finning (fishing) in Sipadan/Mabul area.

Sipadan did holds a special place in my heart. It was at South Point where I first saw my first school of hammerheads few years ago. It was never the same again on my last trip back in June 2007 ... fewer gray reef & white-tip sharks & only ONE lone hammerheads. Now, I know where they have gone to ;-( It ain't global warming!!!

I AM going to boycott Sipadan & blow happy bubbles somewhere else ...

Jovin-

Edited by wahlaoeh, 20 January 2009 - 12:49 AM.


#8 Jo Horrocks

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Posted 20 January 2009 - 04:36 AM

We were in Sipadan 2 years ago and again last November, I reckon there were about a third of the number of sharks than 2 years previously!!!! Definitely very short sighted, when they're gone and the tourists don't come either, what are they going to do then?
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#9 MikeO

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Posted 20 January 2009 - 05:45 AM

And don't know if you get Undercurrent, but there is an article in the latest issue about corruption involving the "lottery" used to select divers to go over to Sipadan. Sounds like another case of using up a potential long-term resource to satisfy short-term greed . . .

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#10 wahlaoeh

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Posted 20 January 2009 - 09:43 PM

Reply from Mr Yabi Yangkat from Environment Protection Department

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Dear Mr. Jovin Lim,

Thank you very much for highlighting and bringing up this issue to me. Since
yesterday, I've received many e-mails on the same issues from concerned
individuals throughout the globe. For your information, the enforcement of
the existing act/regulations on fisheries is under the purview of the Sabah
Fisheries Department. Therefore, all e-mails received on the same issue has
already been forwarded to that department for their information, attention
and further action.

Thanks once again.

Yabi Yangkat
EPD Sabah

Let's hope that together, we can make a difference.

Jovin-

#11 xariatay

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Posted 21 January 2009 - 02:03 AM

Reply from Mr Yabi Yangkat from Environment Protection Department

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Dear Mr. Jovin Lim,

Thank you very much for highlighting and bringing up this issue to me. Since
yesterday, I've received many e-mails on the same issues from concerned
individuals throughout the globe. For your information, the enforcement of
the existing act/regulations on fisheries is under the purview of the Sabah
Fisheries Department. Therefore, all e-mails received on the same issue has
already been forwarded to that department for their information, attention
and further action.

Thanks once again.

Yabi Yangkat
EPD Sabah

Let's hope that together, we can make a difference.

Jovin-


Hey, how abt providing a copy of your email to them? So that I don't have to draft it out... Pardon me for my sloth.... :)
Suggest to email directly to Rayner Stuel Galid - Director of the Department of Fisheries, Sabah Rayner.Galid@sabah.gov.my fish.dept@sabah.gov.my Sabah Fisheries Department & CC to the other depts as listed on Drew's original post.
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#12 AMW

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Posted 21 January 2009 - 01:42 PM

Thanks for posting the contact information, Drew.
I just sent an email to Sabah Parks regarding how I am quite disturbed that shark-finning was occurring on Mabul AT THE SAME TIME THAT I WAS DIVING THERE!!! I also mentioned that if I had known about the shark poaching prior to going, I would have spent my money else where...

#13 wahlaoeh

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Posted 21 January 2009 - 09:56 PM

Reply from Mr Rayner Stuel Galid - Director of the Department of Fisheries
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

I thank you for your original email about shark fishing in Sipadan/Mabul area; I have your email by way of a number of concerned individuals who wrote to me about this matter. I thank you for your concern and appreciate your concerns about unsustainable fishing including fishing for sharks (be it just for the fins or otherwise).
Malaysia has since 2006 a NPOA (National Plan of Action) for the Conservation and Management of Shark (see attached) and the Deparment of Fisheries (primarily) is undertaking many activties as follows :
• Strengthen data collection on biology and related habitats.
• Collect and compile list of dominant, vulnerable and endangered shark species found in Malaysia
• Monitor landings so that it stabilized at sustainable manner
• Identify habitats for reproduction and nursery ground and these need to be protected from destruction and fishing activities.
• Strengthen data collection on socio-economic of fishers and traders
• Strengthen data collection on trade
• Encourage full utilisation of elasmobranch catches by improving value-added of shark's product especially meat, skin and cartilage.
• Improve and develop framework for establishing and coordinating effective consultation involving stakeholders in research, management and educational initiatives within and between States.
• Strengthen education and public awareness among fishers and people on importance of conservation of shark resources.
• Implement effective conservation and management strategies on shark resources.

At the moment also, the Fisheries Act 1985 (the main national law of fisheries and fishing) is the final stage of stakeholder’s consultations with a view to tabling an updated Act that is better and stronger with respect to sustainable fisheries resources management. Defintely, we will be addressing the issue of species-specific fisheries management regimes (such as for sharks) in this undertaking.

At the moment though, the current law is that if a fishermen holds a fishing gear licence, and he abides by the conditions for that particular licence (such as not fishing in no-take areas), he commits no transgression. That includes fishing for sharks. (The only protected species of shark at the moment under current law is the whale shark.)

In the case of the reported shark fishing in Mabul/Sipadan, my Department will investigate this matter. If indeed there are illegal fishermen (fishing without a licence or fishing in contravention of the conditions of the licence) we will take the necessary action and prosecution under the law on such individuals. Sipadan and the seas around Sipadan (but not Mabul waters) are off limits to fishermen (licenced or unlicenced); we will work with all the stewards (government or otherwise) responsible for this security area/bird sanctuary/soon-to-be Marine Park (Sipadan) to ensure that no fishing are carried out in these waters.

Once again, thank you for your concerns and thank you for bringing this up to my attention.

Yours sincerely,

Rayner Stuel Galid
Pengarah Perikanan Sabah
(Director of Fisheries, Sabah, Malaysia)

#14 Drew

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Posted 21 January 2009 - 10:16 PM

I got that same reply. I'm writing back telling them that some sharks are pelagic and don't exactly know where the confines of the MPA are. If they are serious about protection of the sharks (which is one of the reasons people go to Sipadan) then they need to expand the MPA boundaries.

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#15 wahlaoeh

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Posted 21 January 2009 - 10:41 PM

I got that same reply. I'm writing back telling them that some sharks are pelagic and don't exactly know where the confines of the MPA are. If they are serious about protection of the sharks (which is one of the reasons people go to Sipadan) then they need to expand the MPA boundaries.


Agree fully. I have also sent a reply to Mr Rayner asking him about the current boundaries laws/rules and bring up the points you mentioned. I have raised my concerns about the decreasing numbers of sharks saw from my own personal experience over the years. Hopefully, he will take all these into considerations and revisit the laws/rules.

#16 gravity

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Posted 27 January 2009 - 02:15 PM

I applaud the action taken by the members of this board in writing to Malaysian authorities. The dive community and indeed all of mankind need to find new solutions for sustainable fishing. But does boycotting help? The more tourist dollars that are spent, the more receptive the government will be to new regulations to protect the ecosystem. If the tourists leave, what incentive is there to protect? Maybe I am wrong about this. Just some fodder for trying to come up with plans that work, instead of 5 people saying the are going to boycott, which ends up being so small that no one on Mabul even knows there is a boycott and the resorts are still sold out. Any one else think similar or differently then me?

#17 vazuw

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Posted 27 January 2009 - 04:44 PM

As a side note: I was in sipidan/mabul about 10 years ago. I remember so many sharks, you almost bumped into them. I returned last year, and was horrified. I'll bet I saw 2 sharks in 7 days. Whats going on there has probably been going on for years. What the locals need is an incentive to stop. I cant say I know what that is, but they look at survival not the enviroment. Can you blame them? The only solution is to stop the demand. I only wish I had the answer to that.

#18 Drew

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Posted 27 January 2009 - 09:13 PM

I applaud the action taken by the members of this board in writing to Malaysian authorities. The dive community and indeed all of mankind need to find new solutions for sustainable fishing. But does boycotting help? The more tourist dollars that are spent, the more receptive the government will be to new regulations to protect the ecosystem. If the tourists leave, what incentive is there to protect? Maybe I am wrong about this. Just some fodder for trying to come up with plans that work, instead of 5 people saying the are going to boycott, which ends up being so small that no one on Mabul even knows there is a boycott and the resorts are still sold out. Any one else think similar or differently then me?

As it goes, over 800 individuals have read this thread. This news has spread, not unlike when the barge damaged the coral at Sipadan. Look at what happened then. The idea is to let the authorities and resorts know that divers want more protection for the area or they won't go back. Why would any one? I've heard more than 5 people have written in and it will get bigger as more people know about it.

As a side note: I was in sipidan/mabul about 10 years ago. I remember so many sharks, you almost bumped into them. I returned last year, and was horrified. I'll bet I saw 2 sharks in 7 days. Whats going on there has probably been going on for years. What the locals need is an incentive to stop. I cant say I know what that is, but they look at survival not the enviroment. Can you blame them? The only solution is to stop the demand. I only wish I had the answer to that.

The incentive is the tourist dollar and park fees which have been collected but obviously not spent correctly. Many communities have benefitted from marine park areas in the philippines and in Malaysia. We divers can act as watchdogs since we are the ones who pay for it in the end.

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#19 scubaseven

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Posted 29 January 2009 - 12:06 AM

Stopping the demand is right. Maybe in 10 years there will be no sharks ergo no demand.
Its a pity the small amount of mercury in the fin was not harmful enough to humans.
Yes humans need to survive but if we continue to consume more than is available then we are only self destructing.
Its not enough that scientists believe by 2060 all the reefs in the world will be gone. And I think we obtain 90% of our protein from fish.
So killing one thing will only start a catastrophic chain of events. I for one will not be sad. We are the protectors, not the destroyers.
So what are we really killing/destroying here?

Edited by seven1970, 29 January 2009 - 12:08 AM.

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#20 CADiver

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Posted 29 January 2009 - 12:39 PM

Mercury is not enough, we need more and wider spread of H5N1 and SARS so that human species can reboot itself and that might be the solution to save the reef or global warming. :lol:
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