Monday, July 13, 2009

Whale Shark Butchered And Sold At Kota Kinabalu Fish Market

Hantu Laut

Openly displayed on the table at the Central Fish Market at Kota Kinabalu.Killed, either out of ignorance or typical don't care attitude.You have to be a diver to appreciate this gentle giant in the wild.

I was shocked what befalls my eyes when I went to the fish market this morning.There right in front of me were parts of a baby whale shark for sale.The juvenile was probably just a few years old.When I asked the fish monger where she got the fish from she said she bought it from a fisherman.When I told her it is illegal to kill this type of fish she just gave me a blank look and shrugged her shoulder, meaning she doesn't know or doesn't care.Some of the other male fishmongers were already looking at me and my camera suspiciously.I have heard of costumers being whacked by this illegal ingrates if they complain of being short-changed.I quickly moved away and left the market.

Most fishmongers at the market are Filipino migrants and many live across the bay in the biggest eyesore of Kota Kinabalu, the water village of Pulau Gaya called Kampong Pondo, the hive of Filipino illegal activities.Fish bombs,smuggled booze and cigarettes, shabu and stolen goods from the mainland, all can be found here.

It's a terrible sight just to see this gentle giant being slaughtered.It has very little commercial value here.This specie is protected in many countries in the Indian Ocean and the Pacific where they are mainly concentrated.They are also protected in Sabah waters but little have been done to educate the fishing community not to kill the specie.

Whale shark is placed in Appendix II of CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species).It is also on Appendix II of CMS (Convention on Migratory Species also known as the Bonn Convention).Listing on CITES require member nations to monitor the international trade in whale shark product and to ensure it does not threaten survival of the specie.

Our Fisheries Department has done nothing in term of monitoring and enforcement.The whole fishing industry here is topsy-turvy and mired in all kind of illegal activities.

Typical civil servants who sit on their arses and take no pride in their jobs.Fish bombing, using cyanide to catch live fish and preserving fish using formalin are rampant practices here, endangering the people's health and the health of the ocean.The live fish we savour at seafood restaurants around the city may have traces of cyanide, not enough to kill you but has bad long term effect on your health.

The use of sodium cyanide first started in the Philippines in the sixties with the aquarium trade but have somehow made its way into the live fish trade throughout South East Asia.

Unlike in the West, ours is not a compliance society.Malaysians have the tendency to break the law if they think they can get away with it.The most glaring example can be seen on our roads.

What we need is strict enforcement to drive the message home.In this case the Fisheries Department should station permanent enforcement unit in all fish markets in the major towns to nap the culprits who indulge in any illegal activities.

The next time you go to the fish market beware of those fresh looking fish where even the flies don't dare to go near, it could be laced with formalin (formaldehyde).


SM said...


Who's going to do something about this?
Civil servants? PDRM? BN Government? Immigration Officers (to send these Illegal Immigrants back to where they came from)? They are all "on the take bah"! Good pocket money!
You think they care if a few Sharks disappear for good?!
Hey, you still can get "Shark's Fin Soup" in many restaurants in Malaysia. No one seems to care one iota!
As those adverts. by WHO on the TV go..."The killing will stop when the demand stops"!
Malaysians just have the usual "tidak apa" attitude! Malaysia Boleh bah!

Hantu Laut said...

It's the same all over the country, a lot of talk, many wild lives are banned in this country yet you can get some of them openly.

For example the selling of turtle eggs is banned in Sabah, yet you can find then in the markets in the east coast of Sabah.

The irony is I was told turtle eggs were served to former PM Abdullah Badawi when he visited Semporna last year.It was not Abdullah's fault because I understand they are not ban in Peninsula, he probably was not aware of it.It's the Sabah politicians who wanted to carry his balls the guilty party.

My family have stopped eating shark fins almost 20 years ago.My two daughters were dead against eating it.

With affluence growing in China the whole region wild lives are in serious trouble.

Anonymous said...

So true HL, the bigger the fish, the more chance it is being kept by formaldehye at sea.

I learnt that years ago when the captain of the fishing boat told us when I wnet deep sea fishing with him. Ice is not good enough after 2 or 3 days.

I have avoided large fish from the central market for years now.


eddy said...

Bro,whenever I am in KK, I will never miss the many seafood restaurants serving delicious seafood at very reasonable prices there. Next time, I will make sure to eat just the small garoupa and the like, I would not tolerate even small doses of cyanide even if does not kill me.

Have not eaten shark's fin soup since I saw the Discovery channel on how they cut the fin when the sharks are still alive and throw the still alive sharks in the water. Gruesome.

Hantu Laut said...

If you eat once in a while it should be OK.Not all are caught using cyanide.Some are caught by hook and line when they are still small and kept in cages to maturity and some are farmed.

I love sea food too.Those in KK are not bad, the better tasting sea food are actually in Sandakan.

samson said...

Penang famous fish market also sells whale sharks in the evenings..think the Fisheries Dept will care? Even if they do, RM50 - 100 is enough to take care of any problems.

Crystalwolf78 said...

I was upset when I found out about all sharks including the whale shark being butched like this. My son and I saw a Go Diego Go featuring this animal and then he saw a national geographic about this problem he asked me why they hurt the nice shark, he is only 7 was 5 at the time. I could only answer truthfully for money. He said the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles should beat them up for it. I wish this world did not work on money or some sort of exchange excpet for free will. We cannot for humans find this concept strange of why should we work then if it is free. I am hoping to get my son's cub scouts and the local boy scouts involved in supporting people like the Sea Shepard that is stopping things like this to whales and dolphins in Japan also. I hope that they can at least hand out fliers and get donations to send to them. I just got to get a good plan set up and ask, crossing fingers. I hope they say yes but they might just say thats an idea for another date.

sarina said...

I was absoloutely shocked to hear that whale sharks are being served up here in KK, though when i think about it i shouldn't be. There is clear lack of education, law enforcement and a general lazy attitude that must change if Sabah want to keep attracting the millions of tourists here to snorkel and dive and experience the amazing marine life there is to offer. while there are conservation efforts and a couple marine protected areas this isnt enough as these small areas cannot exist on their own. The fishermen have to practise sustainable fising and must not be alughtering these important endangered species. Crystalwolf: I would just like to say that while Sea Shepherd has good intentions, their methods of carrying it out are not entirely agreeable. their use of violence to carry their message is not always effective and in my opinion unneccesary. It would be maybe be more worthwile to support Greenpeace, or other peaceful consevation efforts.

Hantu Laut said...

I agree with you violence is not the right way to stop the problem.Education is the better way but much harder to send the message home.

Green Peace is the better alternative but still unable to arrest the problem.What we need is a total ban by all countries of the world.Easier said than done.