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Making the deep sea fishing rights stay
Published on: Wednesday, December 08, 2021
By: Mohd Izham Bin Hashim
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Kota Kinabalu: Deputy Chief Minister II Datuk Dr Jeffrey Kitingan said the State Government is mulling a new law to ensure deep sea fishing rights will remain under the state, now that Sabah can issue her own licences. 

“This is an important decision. It is a big relief for industry players in the sector and the revenue from the licences can be collected by the state,” he said. 

In his reply to an additional question by Pintasan Assemblyman (Bersatu) Fairuz Bin Reddan, Jeffrey said the state government is exploring the possibility of drafting a new fisheries policy to ensure the rights remain under the state, as a long-term measure. 

Jeffrey who is also Minister of Agriculture and Food Industries, noted the department has implemented several initiatives to provide assistance to affected farmers and fishermen whose incomes are hit hard by the Covid-19 pandemic. 

 “Through the Sabah Cares Assistance package, each farmer (rubber, palm oil and cocoa smallholders) received RM300 each, while livestock and fishermen  received this assistance three times,” he said, noting 84,443 farmers and 449 livestock breeders and 8,437 fishermen benefitted from the assistance package from Sept 2020 -July 2021. 

The assistance package involved RM94.8 million, provided by the State Government. 

 “Another initiative to help producers involved the establishment of Agriportal, an application to market agriculture goods by connecting producers with end-users or exporters.

“his system makes the supply chain much smoother, especially for the state’s agriculture produce such as vegetables and fruits to be prepared for export ,” he said.

 Furthermore, Jeffrey said various assistance and incentives have been prepared by the state and federal government to give assistance to marine fishermen and aquaculture entrepreneurs.  

 They include  livelihood assistance handout with a monthly allowance of RM300, subsidised diesel and petrol supply at lower than market prices at RM1.65 per litres. 

 For marine aquaculture producers, Jeffrey said assistance amounting RM3.96 million is  provided  to 305 producers in the form of  equipment, fish fry, feed,  facilities and other necessary equipment.

  Meanwhile for producers involved in freshwater aquaculture, the Department has channeled RM356,650 in 2021 for 24 producers state-wide through the Food Assurance Fund Programm, with a maximum assistance of RM20,00 per person based on eligibility.   

 “Through KO-Nelayan, my Ministry also provided fishermen with a moratorium which involved an postponement of repayment of loans under the Credit Scheme  in two instances from the period of March – September 2020 and August – October 2021,”he said, noting the move has benefited 4,877 fishermen. 

 Jeffrey noted training and upskilling programmes had to be carried out virtually during the pandemic to ensure affected fishermen can complete their courses. 

 “We organised as many 12 courses for 434 participants last year, while for 2021, 5 courses were carried out which involved 221 participants,” he said. 

On the ministry’s Young Agroprenuer initiative,  he said the programme has helped 44 young entrepreneurs between 18-40 years old to get their business off the ground between 2020-2021,  through assistance grants up to RM20,000 per participant.

In view of the difficult hurdles faced by rubber smallholders, Jeffrey said the government through the State Rubber Board ( LIGS)  will roll out another rainy season (BMT) assistance package with a total allocation of RM51,793,800  for 86,323 rubber smallholders on Dec 31, 2021. Under the package, smallholders are eligible to receive RM600 per person.  In 2020,  BMT payments totalled RM36,949,715 for 61,583 rubber smallholders. 

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