Photos: Erwin Dumaguit Facebook

Philippines: Man-sized Guitarfish in Leyte dies after its fin was cut off
By TJ Dimacali, 13th March 2017;

A 10-foot-long (3-meter-long) Guitarfish (Rhinobatos Rhynchobatus) sp., known locally as “arado”) washed ashore in Dulag, Leyte, last weekend and may have been a victim of poaching.

According to a report on GMA News TV’s Unang Balita, the fish’s dorsal fin had been torn off, eventually leading to its death despite residents’ best efforts to return it to the sea.

The IUCN lists several species of Guitarfish as endangered due to overfishing for their prized dorsal fins, which are sought-after to make soup and medicine.

It was not clear as of press time whether the Guitarfish in Leyte was a victim of poaching or if it somehow lost its fin in an accident.

Closely related to Rays and Sharks, Guitarfish are bottom feeders that prey mostly on clams, worms, and other small animals on the sea floor.

Source: GMA News Online

The common name “Guitarfish” often refers to species from the family Rhinobatidae (Rhinobatus sp.) and Glaucostegidae (Glaucostegus sp.). The members of the family Rhinidae (or Rhynchobatidae) are typically known as Wedgefishes (Rhynchobatus sp.). Several species of Wedgefishes are known from the tropical Indo-Pacific; based on the external morphology seen in the photos, this is likely to be a White-spotted Wedgefish (Rhynchobatus australiae).

A giant Shovelnose Ray (Rhynchobatus sp.) was found dead along the shores of Brgy. San Miguel, Dulag, Leyte last 9 March.

Source: Rochie Montano Adolfo Facebook, via Marine Wildlife Watch of the Philippines Facebook

This is a Wedgefish (Rhynchobatus sp.); several species are known from the Indo-Pacific. Based on the external morphology, this is likely to be a White-spotted Wedgefish (Rhynchobatus australiae). The missing dorsal fins might be an indication that it had been finned.

Malaysia: Mabul sharks likely not from our waters
20th July 2016;

ictures on the killing of several Sharks that went viral on Tuesday were taken about a week ago, according to Semporna District Officer Dr Chacho Bulah.

He said it was usual for fishermen to rip the flesh of the fish to make “siagol”, a local delicacy using Shark meat as base, mixed with pepper and tumeric.

“However Sharks are not the main target for fishing activities in the area. They are a bycatch along with commercial species,” he said. Dr Chacho denied there had been any Shark finning activities in the area, pointing out the marine life were landed in Mabul with body still intact, only to be gutted and chopped up on the island.

Dr Chacho also confirmed that Mabul is a fish landing area.

According to seasoned divers in the area Mabul barely had any Shark population over the last 50 years.

Scubajeff divemaster Nazmi Razali said Mabul is not a main habitat for Sharks so one would be lucky to spot the species when diving.

“We in Mabul are aware that the Sharks were not captured in Malaysian waters.” But many of those who have visited the area confirmed the presence of a “slaughter house” for Sharks on the island for years.

Pat Lingam who posted photos of the Sharks on Facebook said many of these fishes were caught by the local fishermen and brought to the village to be gutted and chopped up.

“Mabul is just a base where they cut up the Sharks and sell them. The fish are caught from waters in neighbouring countries like Indonesia and sold to visitors, mostly visiting China nationals in Sabah,” said Pat revealing that the photos were taken Monday afternoon.

Fisheries Department Director Dr Ahemad Sade also verified the photos were indeed taken on Mabul but denied allegations there had been any Shark finning activities on the island.

Instead, he said all the Sharks are caught and brought back one piece before being chopped up at Mabul island which is the base for fish landing. Dr Ahemad said the fish are then put into baskets before being sent to Semporna.

“The Sharks brought to the island are cleaned and soaked for a while before the cutting process begins.

"Fishermen on the island use sea water instead of fresh water to clean the fish due to the lack of fresh water.

"The cutting can only be done during high tide,” he said.

“There had been no cases of protected fish being landed on Mabul.” There are 67 licensed fishermen on the island and they use hooks and long-lines to fish. Sharks are not the main catch but instead a bycatch along with other commercial fish caught unintentionally, he said.

Dr Ahemad also said from February 25 2014, the department had prohibited Shark fishing and finning on local fishing vessels and their bodies being thrown into the sea as additional requirements for licences.

Source: Daily Express

Horrific: Shark carcasses floating in the bloodied sea at a village in Pulau Mabul.

Malaysia: Sabah govt’s hands tied over slaughter of Sharks as cruel practice is not banned
By Ruben Sario & Stephanie Lee, 20th July 2016;

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, Shark 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 Shark 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 Shark being caught each year since 2003, which might indicate a decline in the population.

Source:

Laws prohibiting Shark-hunting and finning are crucial towards the protection of endangered sharks in Sabah, said State Tourism, Culture and Environment minister Datuk Seri Masidi Manjun.

Malaysia: Laws against Shark-hunting and finning necessary, says Masidi
By Olivia Miwil, 19th July 2016;

Laws prohibiting Shark-hunting and finning are crucial towards the protection of endangered Sharks in Sabah, said State Tourism, Culture and Environment minister Datuk Seri Masidi Manjun.

Masidi was responding on the circulation of pictures of Shark-killing at Mabul island, shared in Facebook.

In January, it was reported that a group of tourists and divers had witnessed Sharks being finned at the island.

Sabah had last year asked the Federal government to amend the Fisheries Act, specifically on Shark protection in Sabah.

The request however was rejected as it was deemed unnecessary.

“With the absence of any law prohibiting Shark-finning, what difference does it make?” Masidi replied in WhatsApp message.

He added that an announcement would be made on the setting up of Shark sanctuaries at marine parks soon.

In February, during the ‘My Fin My Life’ campaign here, Masidi said the Shark sanctuaries would be set up at more than two million hectares of marine parks including the newly-gazetted Tun Mustapha Park in Kudat, Tunku Abdul Rahman park in Kota Kinabalu, and the Tun Sakaran marine park in Semporna.

Shark species are vital to the diving industry as nature enthusiasts generate revenue of about RM380 million every year.

Source: New Straits Times

One of the viral photographs showing shark finning taking place at Mabul Island.

Malaysia: Masidi: Shark hunting will not stop without law against practice
19th July 2016;

It is not possible to stop the killing of Sharks for their fins as there is no law prohibiting hunting of the marine creature here, says Datuk Seri Masidi Manjun.

Sabah Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Seri Masidi Manjun said because of this, photographs of Sharks supposedly being hunted and finned in Sabah’s east coast would continue to surface.

He said this after photographs of nearly a dozen finned Sharks were spread on Facebook and WhatsApp, supposedly taken on July 16 at a village on Mabul Island, near Semporna.

Asked if state authorities were aware of killing of Sharks at the island, Masidi said; “What difference does it make when there is no law against it – the Fisheries Act?”

This was not the first time photographs of Shark finning at Mabul Island have surfaced.

The Sabah government has been unsuccessful in getting the Federal Government to amend the Fisheries Act to include a ban on Shark hunting – even in state waters.

Agriculture and Agro-Based Industry Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Shabery Cheek had said that the Sabah government’s request for a ban on Shark hunting and finning in Sabah was unnecessary.

The state subsequently said it would designate marine parks around the state as Shark sanctuaries, where hunting of such marine creatures was banned.

The Sabah Shark Protection Association here said a law banning Shark hunting was just as important as having sanctuaries.

Its chairman Aderick Chong said without such laws, Shark hunting would continue. Malaysia is currently the world’s ninth largest Shark producer.

Conservation organisation Traffic reported that more than 231 tonnes of Shark were caught in Malaysia between from 2002 to 2011, accounting for 2.9% of the total globally-reported Shark catch.

He said fisheries statistics also showed a decreasing amount of Sharks being caught each year since 2003, indicating a decline in its population.

Source: The Star

Photos allegedly taken in Mabul Island have sparked outrage again from conservationists who say that such acts were contradictory to the state’s eco tourism.
Photo: Danau Girang Field Centre

Malaysia: Fresh Shark finning photos from Sabah emerge on internet, but minister says hands tied
By Julia Chan, 19th July 2016;

New gory photos of shark finning said to be taken in the dive haven of Mabul, off Sabah’s famed Sipadan island are circulating on the internet and have enraged environmentalists, including state Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Seri Masidi Manjun.

Masidi who has been advocating Shark protection in Sabah’s waters denounced the heinous act, but indicated that there would be little the authorities could do as there is currently no law banning Shark finning in the state.

“The photos speaks volumes of what I and many other Sabahans have been advocating for the last five years,” he said, adding that he had given his thoughts on the problems many times in the past.

Asked if there would be investigations based on the photos, he replied: “What difference does it make when there is no law against this despicable act?”

The photos on Facebook show several Sharks with their fins cut off floating in a sea of blood within a water village area, along with allegations that the photos were taken at Mabul island, a locally-inhabited island within the Tun Sakaran Marine Park.

The island itself is home to a fishing community living in several water villages, as well as a host of dive resorts ranging from backpacker to luxury stilt chalets.

Conservation research group Danau Girang Field Centre director Dr Benoît Goossens, who posted on their Facebook page, said that it was incomprehensible to think that such an act was allowed to be carried out near a world class diving island like Sipadan.

“The massacre has to stop! It is crazy to think that it is happening a few miles from the best diving spots where divers go to see Sharks. I think Sabah should make a stand and put the Sharks under special protection in Sabah’s waters and enforce it,” he said.

“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,” he said.

Following reports of an 80 per cent decline of Sharks in its waters, the state has been pushing for the federal government to ban Shark hunting and finning by amending its Fisheries Act. However, its three year proposal was dismissed claiming that Shark hunting was not a huge business in the state.

Masidi has since then come out to say that the state will enforce its own Shark sanctuary through its marine parks soon.

The Tun Sakaran Marine Park in Semporna, Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park fronting the state capital, and the proposed Tun Mustapha Marine Park in Kudat would be declared Shark sanctuaries and off limits to shark fishing.

The three parks total some two million hectares and are habitat to about 80 per cent of the state’s Shark population.

The Tun Mustapha Marine Park is set to be launched this Sunday.

Source: Malay Mail