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Saturday September 28, 2013 MYT 12:00:00 AM
Saturday September 28, 2013 MYT 12:06:11 PM
by nik naizi husin
Bringing it closer : An angler tempting a billfish before it is caught and released during the challenge.
ROMPIN: The recent Royal Pahang Billfish International Challenge here revealed that there were poor caring of the marine life in the seas of Rompin.
In the annual event — the largest fishing competition in Malaysia — less species of billfishes were spotted in the “catch and release” concept of competition causing the participants to realise that their efforts to brave the seas and their travel from their respective hometowns to take part were not worth the effort compared with the previous years.
However, some said it was part of the game of fishing and luck was part of the game.
One hundred and eighty nine billfishes were caught and released during the competitioned, held for the ninth year. It was way less than over 300 fishes caught in the previous editions.
Some of the anglers who were disappointed with their small catch said the reason why there were less billfish is because of the warm waters, destroyed tukun (fish traps)and the available reefs.
They said the tukun have reduced of its number of billfishas some of it have destroyed, due to the irresponsible and greedy attitude of fishermen using huge trawlers and illegally surrounding the area.
Muadzam Shah assemblyman Datuk Maznah Mazlan who also took part in the competition commented that, more “tukuns” should be available in the area as it gathered more species of fishes which are the billfishes food.
Maznah said the related authorities should look into this matter and take initiatives to provide more “tukuns” because it will also benefit the local coastal fishermen.
“I was told that, there were irresponsible fishermen who catch the billfishes to make “keropok” (fish crackers) for commercial purposes whereas this type of fishes are not tastefull compared to other types of fishes like kembong and so on.
“Making fish crackers out of billfish should be stopped and the authorities should do something about it because the billfish has its specialties to be conserved,” she said.
According to Pahang Tourism Ministry Office general manager Idros Yahya, the billfish competition had contributed much to the State’s annual tourism revenue what more with the participants coming from other countries.
State Tourism and Culture Committee chairman Datuk Mohd Sharkar Shamsuddin said the seas off Rompin where the competition was held has been a natural migration route for the billfish species (istiophorus platypterus) on their way from the northern hemisphere to Australia.
Mohd Sharkar said the billfish have both the ability to migrate long distances and this made the seas (South China Sea) off Rompin an ideal venue for the annual Royal Pahang Internation Billfish Challenge.
“Rompin is like a transit point for the billfishes before continuing their journey down south.
“Rompin is unassuming as it is scenic, offering some of the best billfish type fishing in the world,” he said.
The active migration period of the billfish, such as marlin and sailfish passing the Rompin area from the northern hemisphere to their destination in Australia, is from March to September..
One of the reason for their presence in the area is the abundance of shoals of anchovies and other small fish to feed on.
The reefs at Rompin, namely Karang (Reef) DO, Karang Cha, Karang Batu Mati, Karang Buru, Karang Luas, Batu Berhala, Karang Rompin, Batu Saga and Tukun Tayar provide some of the best resting places for the billfish before they move on.
One of the objectives for the Royal Pahang Billfish International Challenge is to attract tourists to the state, especially those who seek adventure and eco-friendly sports.
A total of 96 anglers in 32 fishing boats braved the choppy South China Sea to catch billfishes during the event held some 30 nautical miles off Pantai Bernas here.
Emphasising on the “catch and release” concept the competition has attracted an increase in the number of participants compared to previous years but their catches were reduced.
Team Xzoga comprising Toby Kemp, Leanne Dixon, Danis Lee Chong Seng from Malaysia emerged champions with 25 catches while Dogo team comprising Lim Joo Liat, Mike Low Lip Meng, David Lian Wie Sein from Singapore was the runners-up with their 24 cathes.
In third place was Alba from Australia comprising Benjamin Luhe Heinrichson, Peter Oberg and Spyros Vassiliades, with their 21 cathes.
Team Xzoga, received trophies, RM15,000 and other prizes while Dogo team received RM10,500 and other prizes and team Alba received RM7,000 and other goodies. from Mohd Sharkar.
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Southern & Eastern Region, billfish
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