Shark & Ray Conservation


Forever Sabah is playing a coordinating role in the Sabah Shark and Ray Initiative. The multi-stakeholder Initiative, supported by the Shark Conservation Fund, is conducting local level activities to address by-catch reduction in commercial and small-scale fisheries and improve marine protected area effectiveness. Initiative partners are also working to enhance laws, policies and enforcement-related practices relating to the conservation and sustainable use of sharks and rays in Sabah’s waters. The stories that emerge from the work are being communicated through press releases and a schools outreach programme.




1. Reduce bycatch in commercial fisheries (Marine Research Foundation): a. Use GPS-linked camera systems to determine areas of highest bycatch of sharks and rays on shrimp trawl vessels operating out of Sandakan (Sabah’s largest fishing port) and develop a map for presentation to the Department of Fisheries Sabah to enable future management actions such as time-area closures; b. determine the effectiveness of TEDs as a shark and ray bycatch mitigation strategy by deploying GoPro cameras on existing TED-equipped vessels. Results will be discussed with government agencies with a view to being scaled (see Activity 5 on law and policy).


2. Reduce bycatch in small-scale fisheries (WWF-Malaysia, Marine Resource Foundation): Conduct studies in Tun Mustapha Park (Sabah’s largest MPA) to mitigate gillnet captures of sharks and rays through the use of LED lighting technology, to assess the potential for bycatch reduction through low-cost LEDs on artisanal gillnets. Results will be discussed with government agencies with a view to being scaled (see Activity 5 on law and policy).


3. Improve MPA effectiveness (WWF-Malaysia): Improve MPA effectiveness for sharks and rays in line with the announcement that all Sabah’s MPAs are ‘shark and ray sanctuaries’ by undertaking coordinated BRUV and UVS work in Tun Mustapha Park. The findings of the population baseline and critical habitats will contribute to the development of a management plan for sharks and rays.


4. Enhance law and policy (Forever Sabah): To promote the above outcomes being integrated into law and policy (and therefore practice) we will develop legal analyses of Malaysian and other jurisdictions’ laws and policies related to bycatch reduction and LMMAs as the basis for engaging with the relevant government agencies. In addition, we will a. support a robust revision of the NPOA, b. engage the relevant government agencies to include all CITES-listed species under the (Malaysian) International Trade in Endangered Species Act (2008), and c. promote the finalization of the inclusion of six new species of sharks and rays under the Fisheries Regulations (1999).


5. Raise awareness (Sabah Sharks Protection Association and Forever Sabah): Run a media campaign and engagement with the fishing community and schools.  

6. Host a Forum 2020 (Forever Sabah): Communicate and evaluate our work, deepen political/governmental and other stakeholders’ commitment and identify next steps.

The Sabah Shark and Ray Initiative is funded by the Shark Conservation Fund, a philanthropic collaborative pooling expertise and resources to meet the threats facing the world's sharks and rays. The Shark Conservation Fund is a project of Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors. 


More information


More information on the Initiative and the upcoming Sabah Shark and Ray Forum can be found on LEAP Spiral’s website because LEAP Spiral is administering the grant on behalf of the partners: Sabah Shark and Ray Initiative