Supermarkets found selling banned shark meat

, National 2 minutes, 20 seconds

BRUNEI-MUARA AND BELAIT

AT LEAST two major supermarkets were found selling shark meat despite the blanket ban on the catch, sale and import of all shark products that took effect last year.

When The Brunei Times visited last weekend, two large supermarket chains in the Belait district were selling shark meat between $12 to $13.50 per kg in small packets labelled ‘Salted Ikan Yu’ and ‘Ikan Masin Yu’ (salted shark).

At the branches of both supermarkets across the district, salted shark were available in plentiful quantities with over 10 packets stocked at each store.

The packets of salted shark were openly displayed on the shelves with other commonly bought dried fish including anchovies and threadfin. Shopkeepers from two of the stores said the supply of shark products came from Malaysia.

In the Tutong district, salted shark was found at the store of a large supermarket chain priced at $11 per kg. Shopkeepers claimed the shark products were imported from Malaysia by a local supplier.

Meanwhile, salted shark at one of the branches of a major supermarket chain in Brunei-Muara district were currently out of stock. Shopkeepers said their shark products were sourced locally, but did not give further details.

Other large supermarkets, namely Supa Save, Giant and Hua Ho, said they do not sell shark products in compliance with the shark trade ban.

When contacted, the Fisheries Department could not be reached for comment yesterday.

Last year, Brunei became the first country in Asia to adopt a total ban on all shark products, earning widespread praise from conservationists. The law was introduced by the government to tackle dwindling fish resources resulting from decades of overfishing.

However, recent allegations of shark poaching and landing have sparked outcry from authorities and conservationists for tougher enforcement of the shark trade ban.

News of a black market trade for shark products prompted ocean conservation group Sea Shepherd Global to put up a US$1,000 reward in February for any information leading to the arrest and conviction of a shark poacher in the sultanate.

As apex predators, sharks play an important role in maintaining a balanced ecosystem. Today, many sharks have become endangered as a result of overfishing and overconsumption.

In the wake of the allegations, Minister of Industry and Primary Resources Yang Berhormat Pehin Orang Kaya Seri Utama Dato Seri Setia Hj Yahya Begawan Mudim Dato Paduka Hj Bakar sought greater cooperation from the public to put an end to the illegal shark trade.

The minister said action would be taken against anyone found guilty of catching, landing or selling sharks after the ban, following an investigation by law enforcement.

Under the Fisheries Order 2009, shark trade offenders can be fined up to $1,000 by the Fisheries Department or face prosecution in court with a maximum penalty of $10,000 or sentenced to one year imprisonment, or both.

The Brunei Times