KOTA KINABALU - A picture of a reef shark killed by fishing nets within the protected Tunku Abdul Rahman Park has sparked calls for immediate action to restrict fishing within the marine park.
In describing the incident as appalling, Sabah Shark Protection Association (SSPA) president Aderick Chong said steps must be taken against fishing in the protected area as it was an offence under the Tunku Abdul Rahman Park Enactment 1984.
He said the offenders should face the full brunt of the law, which provides for a one-year imprisonment, a fine not exceeding RM20,000 (S$6,770) or both for first-time offenders, while repeat offenders could face double the fine or jail time or both.
"It is disheartening to see these pictures of dead sharks that must have struggled for their lives when they were caught in these nets. Furthermore, it is believed that the nets were from illegal fishing activities within the marine park," Chong said in a statement.
He thanked Downbelow Marine and Wildlife Adventures for highlighting the issue and its immediate steps to work with Sabah Parks to clear the fishing nets discovered in the marine park.
"The result of this active collaboration has resulted in releasing live creatures including sharks and rays. We are also pleased to hear that the net from this incident has been completely removed," said Chong whose association spearheaded a campaign to ban shark hunting and finning in Sabah.
SSPA consists of the Malaysian Nature Society (Sabah branch), Marine Conservation Society (MCS), Shark, Education, Awareness and Survival (SEAS), Scubazoo, Tropical Research and Conservation Centre (TRACC), WWF-Malaysia, Shark Stewards and Land Empowerment Animals People (LEAP).
Tunku Abdul Rahman park manager Justinus Guntabid said they were taking steps to prevent this case from recurring.