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Foreign vessels carrying out systematic fish-bombing
Published on: Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Kota Kinabalu: Three foreign vessels have been carrying out blast fishing in Sabah waters, State Tourism, Culture and Environment Assistant Minister Pang Nyuk Ming (pic), said.

These vessels act as motherships that work with six to eight smaller boats to carry out fish bombing.

"The Ministry is concerned about these big timers. They have a group of smaller boats that surround the mothership that go out to do fish bombing and they collect (the fish) in big numbers," he told reporters at the Maritime Environmental Security Workshop 2017, Tuesday.

He said the bombed fish is sold in the local market after being processed on board into products such as dried fish.

Pang, who is Chairman of the Anti-Fish Bombing Committee, said the operations have been going on for quite some time and did not reveal the locations except that they are done out in the open sea.

He also confirmed that the vessels are not from Sabah.

"Certain people may not like to hear this but I have to be honest about it.

These are the big timers that we need to take care of. We need the help of marine and navy to drive them away," he said.

On the fish bombing situation in Sabah, Pang pointed out that it has been going on quite rampantly.

But unlike the big timers, he said it is done by individuals who resort to doing it for their livelihood.

For this reason he said the Minister Datuk Seri Masidi Manjun has instructed the committee to take a holistic approach towards fish bombings.

"We don't only take stick and punish them. We must look at social side and to give them an option for better life such as through tourism and fish farming," he said.

One success story of such approach he said can be seen at Mantanani Island where fish bombing activities by small scale groups have drastically dropped since the World Wide Fund (WWF) conducted its community programmes two years ago.

Meanwhile, Sabah Anglers President Datuk Wilfred Lingham said local anglers had already known for some time about the illegal fish bombing going on in Sabah waters. The question is what the authorities are doing about it.

"The minister's information is somewhat outdated as it had been openly ongoing for years.

We Anglers knew of the existence of this fish bombers and their nefarious activities for years in our waters.

"Our anglers have noticed their boats around Pulau Mengalum, Mantanani and all shoals around Sabah. He said one has only to go to the sea front near the central markets and you will surely see this so called " mother ships" with its load of small pedal boats.

He said although there nothing illegal about their boats, the problem was catching the culprits red handed as they carried out their bombing activities at sea. - Leonard Alaza

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