Sharks and rays need your help!

Help save sharks by pledging now to not buying and eating and other related products.
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Discarded, finned sharks.

Mobula gill rakers, drying.

Sharks are under threat of extinction – why?

    • Sharks are extremely susceptible to overfishing because most species have slow growth rate and late sexual maturity, meaning they are being fished far faster than they can reproduce.


    • Shark finning, the slaughtering of sharks for their fins to supply the demand for the luxury shark fin soup, is creating additional pressures on already declining shark populations. 


    • Malaysia is no exception, and is a major contributor to the trade of shark fin as well as overfishing domestic sharks and rays.
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Why are the Rays under threat too?


    • The international trade in manta and mobulid gill plates which is being driven by the current demand in the Chinese Medicine trade appears to be a relatively new phenomenon, with demand significantly increasing in the last couple of decades.


    • Rays, like sharks, are particularly vulnerable to overfishing due to their slow growth rate and a late sexual maturity meaning they too are being fished faster than they can reproduce.

Did you know?

Shark fin soup dates back to the Ming Dynasty in China and was eaten by the elite few. Overtime shark fin soup came to be a symbol of class and wealth and with incomes increasing more and more people started consuming it at special occasions. However, no matter how it is served, none of the soup’s flavour or nutrition actually comes from shark fin. It is essentially a symbolic dish and we are killing entire species for a luxury.
Manta and mobula rays are large filter feeding animals, whose flesh is considered to be of relatively poor quality by humans all around the world. As a result these animals have not been widely targeted for human consumption through commercial fisheries in the past. However, in recent years this has changed to meet a new growing demand for their use in Chinese medicine.
Drawn by healthy coral reefs and large fish like sharks, dive tourism is a large growth industry in Sabah, particularly in the Semporna region. The economic study taken in Semporna indicates that the value of each shark in the region generated over $800,000 US per year from dive tourism. The permanent loss of these key species will have a serious economic consequence for the Sabah on a whole not only in the Semporna region.
A study has shown that in Sabah, large shark species are functionally extinct, meaning they do not have the capability for successful breeding in our waters. Sharks are being exploited because most species have slow growth rate and a late sexual maturity. Thus they are being fished far fasted than they can repopulate. By individuals stopping their consumption of shark fin soup we can help save the species on a whole.
Sharks are a huge part of our economy here in Sabah, both in the fishing industry and ecotourism. Sabah used to boast a huge variety of shark species such as blacktip, whitetip and grey reef sharks, scalloped hammerheads, shark rays, grey nurse sharks, guitar sharks, tiger sharks, whale sharks, leopard sharks, silky sharks and threshers but now their numbers are dwindling and some species are rarely seen.
In Sabah we have five marine parks, with a proposed sixth on its way, however the waters surrounding these parks are being overfished and we need everyone’s help to protect our waters as a whole. SSPA believes that extending the current marine park boundaries and working with park management is a step in the right direction for helping the sharks here in Sabah.

Around the world many countries have created shark sanctuaries sharks and rays are allowed to breed and populate and keep the natural balance. The countries that have used these methods and have created managed sanctuaries have experienced benefits in the increase of tourism and jobs in the protection of these species. 

The international trade in mobulid gill plates which is being driven by the current demand in the Chinese medicine trade appears to be a relatively new phenomenon, with demand significantly increasing in the last couple of decades. Those selling or promoting the use of this product claim the plates can treat multiple heath issues.

However, reviews of available literature, along with interviews of well respected practitioners have revealed that there is no evidence to support any of these claims, with some practitioners even admitting that gill plates are not effective and that many other alternatives are available.

Sharks are apex predators at the top of the food chain and when the food web is out of balance it can have huge and detrimental affects on the ecosystem. A recent study has shown in Semporna and Tawau that the few remaining small shark populations around the reefs have almost disappeared and fishing in general has become a tough business with less catch of all species, including fish and sharks.