Monday, October 2

Brunei bans shark trade


BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN: With the consent of His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam, the government, through the Department of Fisheries, Ministry of Industry and Primary Resources (MIPR), will enforce the ban on the catch and landings of all shark species from Brunei’s waters and thus cease the sale of any related products in the domestic market, Borneo Bulletin reported.

Furthermore, the government will also now officially enforce the ban on the importation and trade of shark products which has been in place since August 2012.

These were the words declared by Pehin Orang Kaya Seri Utama Dato Seri Setia Awang Haji Yahya bin Begawan Mudim Dato Paduka Haji Bakar, the Minister of Industry and Primary Resources during the ‘Celebrate the Sea Festival’ in-conjunction with the Worlds Oceans Day 2013 yesterday.

“These measures are, probably, the world’s first commitment by any country,” said the minister. The rationale are “Firstly; our concern on food security and secondly the environmental consideration.”

The minister said sharks are targeted for their fins only, whereas the rest of the body are discarded back to the sea – most of the time barely breathing – to die.

He reminded the audience that sharks occupy an important hierarchy in the marine food web as “higher predators” in the marine environment. “Any alternation of the level will inevitably result in the disturbance of the existing balance of nature and the marine food web,” he said.

The ban supports the international bodies such as the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) at the recently concluded 16th Conference of Parties (16th COP) on CITES in Bangkok, Thailand. More shark species were listed under the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) as vulnerable, endangered and threatened.

The minister believes that the impact from the ban would decrease the fishing pressure towards the shark resources, especially in Brunei and in international waters while more importantly safeguard the nation’s overall fishers’ resources to be in a preserved state in the future.

“Therefore, with this ban, it is further hoped it would become a lesson to us that the fish resources are not finite to be exploited as much as one can.

“This ban would be able to assist in the stock recovery and to prevent further species loss culminating in the loss of the marine biodiversity of the region, and with particular emphasis to waters in Brunei.

“These resources should be well-managed and taken care of so that they would always be sustainable for the generations to come,” the minister emphasised.

Fish resources around the waters of Brunei are declining significantly, similar to other countries in the world, with about 21 per cent of what it was in 1999 mainly due to overfishing.

The minister narrowed down his point on shark catches, which are declining significantly over the years. “The catches were around 40 metric tonnes in 1994 and they fell to 16 metric tonnes in 2011, even though shark is not a targeted fish in Brunei,” said the minister.

The event marks the 12th Celebrate the Sea Festival, which Brunei, with more than 41,000 square kilometres of majestic ocean and marine biodiversity, is a home for more than 400 coral species and a diversity of 670 species of fish, hosts.