Kota Kinabalu: Social activist Tan Sri Lee Lam Thye has proposed an amendment to the Fisheries Act to declassify sharks from the fish list so that they can be protected.
He made the call after the shark issue went viral on social media when a tourist took videos and photos on sharks with their fins cut off, near Mabul Island, recently.
Lee said sharks are classified as fish, thus come under the Fisheries Act and that fishermen can say they can catch it as sharks are listed under the Act although it is an endangered marine life.
"The Ministry of Agriculture and Agro-based Industry should amend the Fisheries Act and bring sharks out of the fish list.
"This shark can come under another law, maybe call it the Endangered Species Act and place it under the Natural Resources and Environment Ministry…I was made to understand that this ministry is already preparing the protected species bill.
"I hope this proposed legislation will be brought to Parliament and tabled as soon as possible as sharks are actually put under the Convention of the International Trade and Endangered Species," he said at a press conference, here, Saturday.
He welcomed the suggestion by Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Seri Masidi Manjun that the State Government creates its own shark sanctuaries in the marine parks in Sabah the soonest possible to conserve the shark population.
"This is one way to get back all the sharks and also to enable tourists interested in diving to see the sharks.
"Because if the sharks start to be killed as fish, then it will get less and less and there is nothing for the tourists to see," he said.
On another issue, Lee also urged national carrier Malaysia Airlines Berhad to review the restriction on putting frozen seafood in its aircraft cargo.
He said the move had caused a lot of difficulties for passengers and hoped the MAS management can reconsider the matter.
"For example, people from the peninsula come to Sabah buy frozen seafood and then they need to hand carry the things to put it in the cabin instead of cargo.
"This can give difficulties to them as other than the frozen seafood they also need to carry their other hand luggage…and for me this ruling had given trouble to passengers.
"Other than that, this ruling also affects the business of selling frozen seafood as the people from the peninsula or other places will only buy limited frozen seafood," he said.
According to Lee, if MAS had enforced the ruling because the frozen seafood is going to defreeze and affect the other passengers' luggage, he suggested that the frozen seafood be separated from the other luggage.
"All the frozen items can be put in one place and the luggage put in another place.
"I suggest MAS review this ruling in the interest of passengers and business in Sabah," he said.