MIRI: Future Ocean Borneo founder Iqbal Abdollah has expressed his frustration after a group of fishermen decided to sell a giant reef manta ray—a protected species—instead of reporting their discovery to the relevant authorities.
According to sources, the 800kg reef manta ray was believed to have been found yesterday by a group of fishermen from Kampung Kuala Sibuti in their fishing nets.
The sources added that upon landing, they then cut it into small pieces and sold it for RM5 per kg to the public.
“We’re not sure if the manta ray was caught intentionally or not…maybe it was trapped in their nets, so we can’t blame them.
“Furthermore, they may not be aware of the status of this marine animal as a protected species.
“However, I wished the fishermen had contacted the relevant authorities such as the Sarawak Forestry Corporation (SFC) or the Fisheries Department before selling the manta ray to the public,” he pointed out.
The reef manta ray is categorised as protected species under the Wildlife Protection Ordinance (WLPO) 1998 and the Malaysian Fisheries Act 1985.
In this regard, Iqbal hoped that relevant authorities could hold a dialogue session with fishermen to update them on endangered marine life.
“They (fishermen) can help the government to protect the endangered species if they are given proper awareness and guidance,” he said.
He added that the reef manta ray was not native to state waters but had sometimes been seen swimming in small groups in state waters, especially in the Miri-Sibuti Coral Reef National Park.
In addition, he also hoped to see the reef manta ray swimming freely in the ocean as it could enhance tourism activities, especially diving around Miri waters.