By Chris Maskilone
KUALA LUMPUR: Deep sea catches landed in Sabah are not only little in quantity but mostly trash fishes.
Minister of Agriculture and Food Industry Datuk Junz Wong wanted to change this situation and had requested the Fishery Department to look into the possibility of catch volume declaration as a requirement for renewal of the deep sea fishing license.
“In actual fact we should have plenty of good quality fishes landed in Sabah and consumers too will get reasonable prices if all catches landed here are in accordance to the condition specified on the licences.”
“But what we have is very low quality and mostly only trash fishes that are landed in Sabah,” Junz stressed.
At the same time, he said the government was considering banning Vietnamese-made fishing vessels and to be replaced with new modern vessels.
“Hopefully this will reduced if not solved the issue of illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing,” he said.
According to him, there were 52 licensed deep sea fishing vessels in Sabah and out of this 31 were Vietnamese-made fishing vessels and 28 of them active.
However, out of the 28, he said five licensed had been revoked.
Junz said quite a number of these made in Vietnam fishing vessels have been found violating their licence conditions particularly by encroaching into the traditional fishing grounds, which is six nautical miles from the shore, recently.
Other offences were encroaching or fishing in restricted zone (inside 30 nautical miles); not installing the vessel tracking monitoring system (VMS) or damaging identification QR code mark onboard; and cloning of vessel.
He said quite a few have been detained by the Malaysia Maritime Enforcement Agency at the Sabah coastal lines and have been brought to court and some pending.
“The government is looking very seriously at these offences and action will be taken including revocation of licences,” he said.
Junz would also raise to the State Cabinet on the proposal to impose strict immigration employment policy by prohibiting Vietnamese crew in the Vietnamese boats operated by locals.
“Why only these particular local operators, who used Vietnamese boats, recruit Vietnamese crews while other operators using local boats recruit only labours permitted by Sabah immigration?” Junz wondered.
The Minister stressed more initiatives would be introduced to monitor and control in ensuring these licensed deep sea Vietnamese boats’ operators would actually serve the best interest of Sabah fishery sector.
Junz said this after a meeting with Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Agro-based Industry Sim Tze Tzin and senior officers of the ministry at Putrajaya here today.
As of 2015, applicants were not no longer allowed to purchase vessels from Vietnam, Phillipines, Taiwan, China and Brunei while usage of trawling fishing gears have been frozen and only purse seiners, long lining (rawai) are allowed.
Deep sea fishing vessels are defined as vessels with 70 gross tonnage and above, operating 30 nautical miles from shore.
All permits are approved by Department of Fisheries Malaysia.
For vessels to operate in Sabah waters, the applicant must be a Sabahan or a Sabah Permanent Resident (PR).
Towards this end, Junz called upon industry players such as fishery associations, NGOs related to the fisheries business as well as the public to report any violations of the licensed conditions, especially Vietnamese-made vessels.
“All licensed vessels have to submit monthly landing of vessel (LOV) return to track report in order to track their movements.”
“We have to protect our abundance resources before they become depleted,” he said.-SabahNewsToday