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16 May 2011 09:50
Sabah state in Malaysia is planning to impose a ban on shark fishing by next year
Sabah is planning to impose a ban on shark fishing by next year, thus becoming the first state in Malaysia to make such a move, according to an official.
Masidi Manjun, tourism, culture and environment minister in the eastern state on Borneo island, said the move is aimed at conserving shark population.
The ban on shark fishing is also expected to boost the country's tourism, which could see an increasing number of holidaymakers take out
travel insurance to visit Malaysia.
Malaysia is one of the major shark-catching nations in the world, with fishermen hunting the species mainly for their fins, which are used to make a culinary delicacy.
Although no official figures are available on the number of sharks in the state, Mr Masidi estimated that their population in Sabah waters has dropped to a fifth, compared with 15 years ago.
He said: "There are only four coastal areas now where sharks can be spotted.
"If we don't do something about it, sharks may disappear from our waters completely. We will also lose tourism dollars."
Tourism is a major revenue earner for Sabah, which is well-known for the rich biodiversity in its rain forests and dive sites teeming with coral reefs and marine life.
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