The campaign to designate a shark sanctuary to the east of Sabah, Malaysia Borneo, began in 2009 with the hopes of offering sharks and rays protection from commercial fishing and finning as well as protection from the sale and trade of sharks and shark parts. Home to over 60 species including the extremely rare Borneo shark and the largest fish in the sea, the whale shark, the Semporna Shark Sanctuary is currently in the designation process. This proposed sanctuary would protect these sharks and the diversity of world-class coral reef ecosystems (as the sanctuary lies in the Coral Triangle). With support from the Sabah State Government, local NGOs, and dive operators, the proposed sanctuary could not only protect critical species, but promote marine and diving tourism to the area and provide economic growth to the community.
Tourism, Culture and Environment, Minister Datuk Masidi, expressed in a comment to the Borneo Post, "I still hope that those who oppose the banning of shark hunting and fining will see the benefits of this. They must realize that if there are no more sharks in Sabah, many more people will lose their jobs and businesses. The scuba diving industry is a multi-million dollar one and its spin-off into other areas of the tourism sector like food and beverage is also huge. No more sharks means no divers will come to Sabah and then who will patronize their business premises?”