Indonesia Declares Walking Sharks as Protected Species
TEMPO.CO, Jakarta - Indonesia's Ministry of Marine Affairs and Fisheries has declared walking sharks (Hemiscyllium spp) as a fully-protected species to ensure their continued existence and to prevent their population from declining.
"The population decline and vulnerability of the walking shark species have been the deciding factors on the need to set up a policy to ensure the fish's existence," said Director General of Maritime Spatial Management at the ministry Victor Gustaaf Manoppo, according to a statement received on Wednesday.
Moreover, the fish has a small range size and population, making it vulnerable to extinction, he said, adding that the walking shark species will be one of the 20 priority fish species in the ministry’s 2020–2024 conservation program.
Based on an assessment carried out in 2020, all Hemiscyllium species have been put on the red list of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) given their vulnerability and threatened status, he noted.
Moreover, two walking shark species have been declared as “near threatened” and three have been listed as “vulnerable,” he said.
The Hemiscyllium is endemic to the waters of Papua, West Papua, Maluku, and North Maluku, as well as Papua New Guinea and Australia. Of the nine existing species, six can be found in Indonesian waters.
Manoppo said that Minister of Marine Affairs and Fisheries Sakti Wahyu Trenggono signed Ministerial Regulation No. 30 of 2021 on the full protection of walking shark species last January, making it the legal basis for the protection of the species.
Meanwhile, Director for Conservation and Marine Biodiversity at the ministry Firdaus Agung said that after the issuance of the ministerial regulation, his side will disseminate information on the protected species status of the Hemiscyllium among the public.
A national action plan to conserve the species will be devised, he added.
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