The Fisheries Department has defended Malaysia's vote against the listing of certain sharks and rays as protected species under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (Cites).
At the 18th meeting of the Conference of the Parties (CoP18) to the Cites in Geneva, Malaysia was among 40 countries that objected to Mexico's proposal to protect 18 species, while another 102 countries voted in favour.
"Malaysia's position not to support the listing of mako sharks, guitarfishes and wedgefishes at the COP18 Cites is based on the views of shark experts in the region as well as recommendations of the Fisheries Department," it said in a statement today.
The department explained this was because the fishes were not "targeted species," but are obtained by catch, meaning that they are caught unintentionally when other species are targeted.
It said the proposal to add the fishes to Appendix II of protected species under Cites was previously discussed at the Asean level to formulate a common position among member states.
"The listing of the species in Appendix II of Cites was discussed by fisheries experts at the Regional Consultation on the Development of the Asean-Southeast Asian Fisheries Development Center (Seafdec) Common Position on the Proposed Listing of Commercially-exploited Aquatic Species into the Cites Appendices, which took place on Jan 30 and 31 in Bangkok.
"As a follow up to that discussion, the position of Asean countries on the listing was further discussed at the 15th Asean Working Group on Cites and Wildlife Enforcement held on April 2 to 4 in Sandakan.
"In that meeting, the majority of Asean nations decided not to support the proposal," it said.