KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 5 – A Facebook user who snapped a picture of a whale shark, a protected species, being skinned by fishermen at the Tanjong Gemok jetty, off Pulau Tioman, became viral following outcry by several users. Facebook user Asma Mohammad, who uploaded the photos at noon yesterday, said this was the first time she had seen such a big fish, exclaiming that she was ecstatic by it.
Several pictures also showed the fish being skinned before being cut by fishermen, believed to be for sale at the local markets. The posting has since been shared 303 times and had received 27 likes as of press time so far. According to Facebook user Nazeri Abghani, the whale shark was a protected species and could have been become entangled in the fishing nets.
Another user, Ahmad Fazli Fazlink, called on the authorities, such as the Department of Marine Park Malaysia, to take serious action against those who had caught the whale shark. User Nicole Power posted: “OMG (Oh my God) how could they? Whale sharks are filter feeders, so magnificent & peaceful…& the mole says she feels ecstatic, shame on her.”
Facebook user Nijay Salim said that while it was a pride for deep sea divers to see the whale shark up-close, but the idiocy of those who caught the giant fish. “The whale shark is a rare find at times..speechless,” he posted. The largest species of fish in the world, the whale shark is listed as a vulnerable species and are occasionally found in Malaysian waters.
It can grow up to an average of 11m in length, with the largest captured species posting a length of 12.65m and weighing more than 21.5 tonnes. It is a protected species in Malaysia through the Fisheries Act 1985 and Fisheries Regulations (Control of Endangered Species) 1999. If convicted or found guilty of catching this species, once can be fined RM20,000 or face two years’ jail, or both.