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Curbs on Sabah lobster catches soon
Published on: Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Kota Kinabalu: The State Agriculture and Food Industry Ministry may impose a restriction on catching lobsters after it found out that many people have been doing it irresponsibly.

Its Minister Junz Wong said they are currently studying the policies relating to lobster catching and farming to make it more sustainable.

"I'm determined to restrict the catch of wild lobsters as many irresponsible persons are just catching them of any sizes.

"This will hamper the reproduction system of local wild lobsters and we don't want to face the day when we have no more lobsters.

"Protection must be implemented and these catchers must be monitored," he said in a statement.

Wong added that his ministry is also looking at restricting the sale of lobsters in restaurants and for exports.

"Any lobsters below 500g cannot be sold or exported in the market and this restriction will surely help a long way in preserving the continuous supply of lobsters in Sabah," he said.

According to a seafood operator who did not wish to be identified, any move to regulate the harvesting of lobsters is long overdue.

"They fetch the highest price among crustaceans in seafood restaurants at around RM400 per kg. Because of the steep price only the rich locals or Chinese tourists are the main customers," he said.

According to him Kuala Penyu has been subjected to over-harvesting to the extent that lobsters from there are no more the top grade, unlike those from Semporna and Kudat.

He also hoped that the new Warisan-led State Government would show no mercy on the Vietnamese carrying out illegal fishing in Sabah waters.

"It is a common secret that what they are scooping up from our waters are lobsters and turtles to sell to the highly lucrative Hong Kong market.

"It is suspected that even Malaysian vessels leased to the Vietnamese are involved and sell the valuable catch to a mother ship at sea.

"But surprisingly whenever the fishing industry and angler's association complained to the previous relevant Barisan Nasional Ministers, both them and the Fisheries Department would deny knowledge and this has been going on for decades.

"Imagine how much the State had lost through the years when Indonesia seizes and burns the vessels of illegal fishing culprits, mostly Vietnamese," he said.

The operator also supported the Warisan Government's plans to set up a tuna canning industry in the east coast, saying it could bring huge revenue to Sabah as canned tuna is in great demand with Philippines and Thailand being major exporters.

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