Total federal protection of four shark and two ray species implemented in Malaysia
Following a proposal originally submitted by the Sabah government to the federal government of Malaysia, as of 17 July 2019 four shark species and two manta ray species gain country-wide protection under the Federal Fisheries (Control of Endangered Species of Fish) Regulations 1999, Fisheries Act 1985.
According to the new regulation implemented last week, the great hammerhead shark (Sphyrna mokarran), smooth hammerhead shark (Sphyrna zygaena), winghead shark (Eusphyra blochii) and oceanic whitetip shark (Carcharhinus longimanus) as well as two ray species – the giant oceanic manta (Manta birostris) and reef manta (Manta alfredi) now enjoy full legal protection in Malaysia. These species were first identified for protection under the regulation in 2017 and all - except for the winghead shark - are included in Appendix II of the Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES).
These six species join the whale shark (Rhincodon typus) and the sawfish family (Pristidae), which were the only other elasmobranchs to have enjoyed federal-level protection in the country until now. As per the regulation, no person shall fish for, disturb, harass, catch, kill, take, possess, sell, buy, export or transport any of the specified protected species except with written permission from Malaysia’s Director-General of Fisheries.
Complimentary fisheries management measures to reduce mortality of these six species will also be needed to avoid accidental capture and further consumption and trade of the listed species. By ensuring that the newly implemented law can be enforced, such management methods would help these protected species thrive in Malaysia’s waters in the future.