Horrific photographs of sharks being hunted and finned in Sabah's dive paradise will continue to crop up on social media unless there are laws banning the practice.
State Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Seri Masidi Manjun said without such laws the slaughter would continue.
He said this when asked about the photographs of nearly a dozen finned sharks posted on Facebook and WhatsApp, said to have been taken at a village in the diving haven of Pulau Mabul near Semporna on July 16.
The pictures showed carcasses of sharks floating in the bloodied sea.
Asked if state authorities were aware of the killing, Masidi said: "What difference does it make when there is no law against it?"
Pressed further if anything could be done to curb such activities, which were viewed in horror by environmentalists and tourists, he said: "What do you suggest in the absence of laws against it?"
Yesterday was not the first time such photographs at Mabul, which is next to the world-class diving spot Pulau Sipadan, have been highlighted.
The Sabah government has been unsuccessful in getting the Federal Government to amend the Fisheries Act to include a ban against shark hunting - at least in waters off the state.
Agriculture and Agro-Based Industry Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Shabery Cheek had said that the Sabah government's request for a ban was unnecessary.
The state subsequently said it would designate marine parks in Sabah as shark sanctuaries where hunting was banned.
However, the Sabah Shark Protection Association said such a law was just as important as the setting up of these sanctuaries.
Its chairman Aderick Chong said without such laws, sharks would continue to be hunted in Malaysian waters, making the country the world's ninth largest producer of shark products.
Conservation group Traffic had reported that over 231 tonnes of sharks were caught in Malaysia between 2002 and 2011, accounting for 2.9% of the total global catch.
He said fishery statistics also showed a decreasing number of sharks being caught each year since 2003, which might indicate a decline in the population.