Sabah authorities investigate video footage of divers spearfishing and touching turtles in Semporna

KOTA KINABALU – Sabah’s wildlife and fisheries officials are investigating video footage of divers hunting for fish with spear guns and touching marine life.

Semporna district, on the east coast of the state, is said to be where this 25-second video clip was filmed.

It is believed that foreign tourists who were staying in one of the resorts at the time are responsible for this incident.

One diver was seen to pet a turtle and then finger-knock the head of the creature.

Divers were also seen using spear guns to shoot fish near the seabed and coral reefs.

Screenshot from a video of a diver touching turtle.

Sabah Wildlife Director Augustine Tuuga said that the Sabah Wildlife Conservation Enactment of 1997 prohibits touching turtles.

When contacted by the media on Thursday (6 June), he said: “We will conduct an investigation and take all necessary steps to avoid a repeat.”

Azhar Kassim, the state fisheries director, said his department will investigate the video.

“Speargun is illegal and prohibited. We haven’t issued a license (for spearguns )… Using this is considered illegal, unreported and unauthorized fishing,” he stated.

Semporna Professional Divers Association is expected to lodge a formal report with the authorities in the near future.

A spear gun is used by a diver to hunt fish in a coral.

Adzmin Fatta, the Reef Check Malaysia programme director, said that they had reported this matter to the appropriate government agencies.

He claimed to know that the Tourism, Culture and Environment Ministry of state was working on better standard operating procedures for marine-based recreational activities.

Adzmin stated that the government was interested in promoting sustainable tourism by incorporating eco-friendly practices.

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