YB proposes in-cage fish approach to help fishermen
Published on: Thursday, April 18, 2019
By: Hayati Dzulkifli

Lumadan Assemblyman Matbali Musah  (pic) proposed in-cage fish as a new approach to help elevate the living standard of some 1,000 traditional fishermen and eradicate poverty in his constituency and nearby areas.

He said the government via its ministries and departments must give serious focus to implement this approach that would open the mindset of  fishermen to better their lives and generate lucrative income.

He said their old ways, including using unsustainable methods like fish bombing, pesticides and illegal trawlers did not make positive changes to their earnings and lives.

“The lives of these traditional fishermen from Lumadan and nearby areas like Kuala Penyu and Sipitang have not changed much since decades ago and many are still categorised under the B40 group.

“Assistance like fishing equipment and outboard engines given by the previous government also did not bring much changes to their lives while the number of coastal fishermen continue to rise.

“That is why I am proposing that the government get these traditional fishermen to go into rearing in-cage fish as several  species have lucrative commercial values like sea bass (ikan siakap), mangrove jack (ikan kakap merah, and garoupa (ikan kerapu), among others that have very high demand in the market,” he said.

Matbali said this when debating the policy speech at the State Legislative Assembly, Wednesday.

He also urged the Agriculture and Food Industry Ministry via the Fisheries Department to consider implementing in-cage fish programme in Kg Lubuk, Kg. Weston, Kg. Bangkalalak, Kg. Bintuka and Kg. Bangkuduan that are suitable for this programme.

In Sindumin and Sipitang, he said in-cage fish is suitable to be carried out in Kg Palakat, Kg Banting and Kg Kuala Mengalong while freshwater fish species like tilapia, and pelian (kelah) are suitable in rural areas where there are small streams or lakes while Kg Kalangan, Kg Marau, Kg Melamam, Kg Mendulong, Kg Meligan and Kg Long Pasia are suitable for rearing freshwater fish.

Prior to implementing the in-cage fish programme, Matbali said the Fisheries Department needs to take proactive action to resolve the shortage of fries.

He said it is timely for the government to build or work together with private sector in setting up their own hatcheries to supply various species of fries with appropriate prices.

He added that the government needs to provide allocation for fishermen to build proper cages or ponds.

Apart from this, Matbali also appealed to the Tourism, Culture and Environment Ministry to include ‘Fishing as a hobby’ in tourism packages which is a new trend and popular not only among locals but also tourists.

“Fishing, catching prawns or crabs has become one of the products for tourism packages which is increasingly popular. Just look at fishing competitions that received encouraging response.

“Fishing packages need to be carried out in each fishermen village to be accompanied with homestay package.

“Proper guidelines need to be formulated to help fishermen who are participating in the programme that will include transportation, buying fish baits, renting or selling fishing equipment, food supply, renting fishing boat and providing rented accommodations and homestay,” he said.

Matbali said traditional fishermen who rent out their fishing boats for fishing packages  can earn about RM3,000 per month as one boat can be rented for RM150 per day and they only need about 20 days rental to generate  good income.

The remaining 10 days, he said the fishermen can do other fishing activities to add to their income which could further improve their standard of living.

On tourism, Matbali said Lumadan is one of the areas that has huge potential to be developed whereby Weston has been receiving about 400 tourists, especially from China, every day, to see the proboscis monkey and fireflies.

Besides Weston, he said the Tourism, Culture and Environment Ministry should also intensify efforts to develop Garama, Bintuka, Suasa and Kota Klias as new tourist destinations due to its natural assets and scenic view.

“If the State Government could do more to promote rural tourism, I am confident that it will generate profits and benefit the local communities, especially those operating homestays, handicrafts, transportation and restaurants,” Matbali said.

He said more than 10 villages in his constituency are suffering from prolong shortage of water supply and the situation worsen by the hot weather and shallow rivers.

He called on the Water Department to give resolve the long-standing water woes in Lumadan and Sipitang, as soon as possible.

On the predicament of 1,335 workers from those terminated concessionaires that have yet to get their monthly salaries since January, Matbali urged the Infrastructure Development Ministry to look for the best solution to tackle the issue so that the wellbeing and livelihood of these workers whom have been absorbed by the Water Department, would not be jeopardised.

Matbali said the lives of these workers need to be defended as some are married with families and have many commitments. – Hayati Dzulkifli


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