Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Ecotourism and Sharks - Malaysia

Over the past three months tourism officials in Mayalsia have been wrestling with the issue of shark finning and a proposed boycott of the region by international divers seeking stronger protections for sharks.

Malaysia seems to be rising to the occasion organically with the following announcement by the Saba Anglers Association (SAA):

The Sabah Anglers' Association (SAA) will use the Sabah International Fishing Tournament 2009 as a platform for its Anti-Shark Finning Campaign. The campaign's committee chairman, Nilakrisna James, said SAA was concerned at the depletion of unique fish in Sabah waters, including protected species like sharks.

"In the past, we have voiced our concern on suspicious marine activities taking place in Sabah waters which received lukewarm response from the authorities.

"We do not need a global boycott from the increasingly green-conscious international travellers to take matters seriously," she said at a press conference on the tournament here today.

Nilakrisna said SAA was campaigning not only to ban shark finning activities in the state, but also at the universal level.

"The ban should be universal and not just for the reason of protecting the tourism integrity or the diving business in the state," she said.

Editors Note: Any efforts by regional players in Malaysia towards anti shark finning efforts should be encouraged. The gov response to the proposed dive boycott has been admirable thus far. The dive community should continue to encourage the tourism minister in tandem with the fisheries minister to enact local laws with a mix of tourism incentives to ban shark finning entirely.

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