Stop intrusion of foreign fishing boats
Published on: Friday, August 24, 2018
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Kota Kinabalu: The presence of Vietnamese fishing boats in Sabah waters, specifically around Kuala Penyu waters, is causing worry to local fishermen, said State Agriculture and Food Industries Minister Junz Wong.He said these intrusions not only resulted in losses to fishermen in terms of declining fish catch but also damage to ecosystem and creatures such as clams.

"Hence, the maritime authorities should take swift action and deploy their assets at areas commonly invaded by these foreign boats to avoid the extinction of sea resources and affecting the livelihood of local fishermen," he said, in a statement, Thursday.

According to records, Sabah has about 51 fishing vessels licensed by the State Fisheries Department which are still active and operated by 11 local companies.

Of the 51 vessels, 18 are local while the other 33 are Vietnamese but managed by local companies that have obtained permits earlier.

However, starting from 2015, foreign vessels acquired from Vietnam, the Philippines, Taiwan, China and Brunei are no longer allowed to operate except if approved prior to 2015.

Fishing vessels are only allowed to operate within two operational zones, namely the West Coast Zone and Tawau Zone at over 30 nautical miles away from the beach.

Currently, seven vessels are licensed to operate using seine net fishing, 11 for trawl net fishing and 33 for drift netting.

"I am still receiving complaints that fishing boats that have been licensed to use drift nets are using trawl nets," said Wong.

He called on the related agencies to increase enforcement to curb this.

Wong also praised the close co-operation between the Sabah Fisheries Department and the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) and hoped this would continue to ensure effective enforcement.

MMEA has so far this year seized five Vietnamese fishing boats in Sabah waters.

"We will dispose of the boats which have been seized and forfeited by sinking and turning them into artificial reefs as breeding grounds for fish. We also want to give a clear warning to those who go against the law," he said.

Sabah's waters comprise 244,140 square kilometres with 1,359 kilometres of coastline.

Wong said the vast open waters and coastline is not an excuse for us to not prioritise the importance of the area.

"I hope everyone will co-operate by reporting to the relevant authorities if they see any illegal fishing activities or foreign boats intruding into our waters," he said.


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