Following viral Semporna video, Fisheries Dept warns divers prohibited from using spearguns to hunt

KOTA KINABALU (June 7): Divers are prohibited from using spearguns to hunt for fish, warned Sabah Fisheries Department director Azhar Kassim.

“We have not issued any licences for capturing seafood using spearguns. Using spearguns is considered illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing,” he said when commenting on a viral video of divers touching marine life and using spearguns to hunt for fish in Semporna.

The 25-second clip, shared on social media, is believed to have been taken near an island in Semporna. The incident is believed to have involved foreign tourists staying at one of the resorts there.

The clip shows a diver petting a turtle before finger-knocking the animal’s head, while another clip shows divers shooting fish using spear guns near the seabed and in coral reefs.

The video ended with the divers enjoying their catch for lunch.

It is believed that the incident involved a local dive centre in Semporna.

The Semporna Professional Divers Association (SPDA) will lodge a formal complaint with the authorities regarding the incident.

Sabah Dive Squad (also known as Deus Diving Club) president Sim Fui said the club is deeply concerned about the incident and hopes the relevant authorities will investigate. “This act is not only illegal, as clarified by the Fisheries Department, but also goes against the core values and principles that our club upholds.

“The actions of this diver do not reflect the ethics and practices of responsible diving, which emphasise conservation and respect for marine life.

“Furthermore, using a speargun while scuba diving poses significant safety risks. Such actions could accidentally harm other divers in the vicinity, creating a dangerous underwater environment.

“The safety of all divers is paramount and reckless behavior of this kind cannot be tolerated,” he said in a statement today.

Reef Check Malaysia programme manager Adzmin Fatta said they have reported the matter to the relevant government agencies.

Adzmin added the Sabah Tourism, Culture and Environment Ministry is developing better standard operating procedures for marine-based recreation activities.