GEORGE TOWN: In conjunction with the World Fisheries Day 2020 today, Sahabat Alam Malaysia (SAM) is urging the government and local communities to place serious attention to the burgeoning threats to fishery resources.
SAM president R. Meenakshi said the threats were caused by overfishing, destructive fishing methods, destruction of habitats, pollution, coastal developments and others.
She said studies had shown that more than two thirds of the world’s fisheries had experienced overfishing or total harvest, and over one third was in a state of decline due to various factors.
“In Malaysia, the use of trawling nets, banned fishing equipment and destructive fishing methods are among the main factors behind the deterioration of fishery resources.
‘’These nets catch non-commercial fish which end up as trash fish. Studies have shown that up to 60 per cent of catches with trawling nets are trash fish and juveniles.
“In addition, the equipment destroys the seabed and the breeding grounds of many species of marine life.
‘’Trawling operations have also caused conflicts and tension among Zone A fishermen because trawlers often encroach into Zone A fishermen’s fishing grounds and destroy their fishing gears,” she said in a statement today.
She stressed that the policy to eliminate trawl nets in Zone B and Apollo nets that was scheduled to be enforced on Jan 1, 2021 need to be continued as planned.
She added that the policy has been planned since the Ninth Malaysia Plan and was expected to be enforced on Jan 1, 2016.
The implementation was postponed, however, based on objection of trawler operators who needed more time to change their fishing gear and the welfare of trawler captains and crews.
“Till today, SAM notes that there is a lack of determination and commitment from the government to defend this policy,” she said.
In addition, she said the problem of encroachment by foreign fishermen should be given serious attention.
Such encroachments, she said, especially from Vietnam, into Malaysian waters had caused the country estimated annual losses of RM6 billion.
She said the pair trawling method used by foreign fishermen had contributed to the destruction of resources, fish traps and fish shelters of local fishermen and threatened their safety.
She urged that the vessel licences issued by the Fisheries Department be reviewed as there were many such licences being misused by various parties.
Meenakshi, however, also praised the efforts of the Fisheries Department to boost fishery resources through the use of artificial reefs as well as encouraging the conservation and rehabilitation of mangrove forests. -Bernama