Taking back seafood import-export
Published on: Friday, September 07, 2018

Kota Kinabalu: The Warisan-led State Government plans to take back managing the almost billion-ringgit trade in export and import of fresh and frozen Sabah seafood from the Malaysia Fisheries Development Authority (LKIM). Sabah Fisheries Department Director Dr Ahemad Sade (pic) said LKIM has been controlling the activity since 2005.

"It was just recently that the State Government via the Ministry of Agriculture and Food Industry and the Sabah Fisheries Department came up with the proposal.

"This is imperative for the State Government to do so as the value (of the business) has reached between RM700 and RM800 million, annually, and would bring many economic benefits to the State.

"It is now up for discussion between the State and Federal governments," he said, after closing the "Sulu-Sulawesi Seascape Project Regional and National level on evolving stories from Sulu-Sulawesi Seascape: Cooperating for Transboundary Conservation" on Thursday.

State Agriculture and Food Industry Minister Junz Wong was represented by political secretary Rakam Sijim. The event was attended by Sabah Parks Director Dr Jamili Nais, Sulu-Sulawesi Seascape project Director Franca Sprong, German Embassy Economic Councillor Jens Brinckmann, head of delegation of Indonesia from the Ministry of Marine Affairs and Fisheries Andi Rusandi, head of delegation of Philippines from the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Dr Romy Cabungcal and other senior officials.

On fish bombing, Dr Ahemad said Sabah may see an increase in the penalty against those found committing such activity that damaged coral reefs and other marine resources.

"There was fish bombing case from Kota Belud where we charged in court and the accused faced a fine up to RM20,000 or a maximum of two years jail or both, upon conviction.

"We see that the fine is a light sentence and the penalty figure should be increased to deter others. "There is progress on this move but the department is not doing this alone as it is also being done through the Attorney-General's office here," he said.

Dr Ahemad said he is uncertain on the proposed amount of the penalty to be increased but believed it would be a good deterrent. He said Chief Justice of Malaysia Tan Sri Richard Malanjum initiated the proposal, apart from other environmental issues like pollution in the State.

On fish bombing cases in Sabah, Dr Ahemad said there is a positive sign that the number is generally declining due to improved awareness among local community, especially in Semporna and Kudat.

He also attributed the drop in cases to raids by concerned authorities like Marine police, and Malaysia Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA). It is estimated that not less than 50 cases of fish bombing are reported in Sabah. He said there are still trawlers encroaching shallow waters which is less than three nautical miles from the shore but it is not alarming and under control.

On eliminating Vietnamese vessels into Malaysia waters, including in Sabah, Dr Ahemad said it is not easy to do so as there are also foreign fishing vessels from China, Thailand and Indonesia that are doing the same. At the same time, he said Malaysian vessels have also been found to encroach Indonesian waters in Sulawesi that is near the Sebatik Island.

"South China Sea is a vast area to control and it has a rich diversity with marine resources. "Thus, it is not a surprise that many countries are drawn to the region to carry out fishing activities in those area.

"To me, it is not about controlling our resources in the South China Sea but it is about sovereignty of the country, and security besides the food resources," he said.


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