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Monday November 4, 2013 MYT 12:00:00 AM
Monday November 4, 2013 MYT 9:31:40 AM
Holes too big: Fish net maker Chia Tian Suee, 35, showing the diffrence between the old net (right) and the new at Kampung Bagan Sekinchan. — AZMAN GHANI / The Star
KUANTAN: The implementation of new minimum mesh size for fishing nets beginning Nov 1 is to protect the dwindling fish population, said Agriculture and Agro-based Industry Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob.
According to Ismail, studies have shown that nets with mesh sizes below 38mm would also capture fish fry and a significant amount of bycatch, causing population declines in future, to the detriment of the future of the fisheries industry.
The new rule had sparked protests from fishermen who claimed that the larger mesh will cause losses.
Ismail said that a small group of fishermen that use small mesh nets are not even 10% of the total number of fishermen, but their action affects the income of 90% of other fishermen who follow the rules. He said this in a text message yesterday.
He added that the rule had in fact been incorporated in the Fisheries Act, and the current situation is one where enforcement was delayed for some time.
“There is no need for them to see me. They have already met with the Fisheries Development Authority and the Fisheries Department. My answer is the same,” he said.
Fishermen from Selangor’s Pulau Ketam are among thoses refusing to go to sea in a standoff with authorities over the new ruling.
According to Pulau Ketam MCA branch chairman Chia Mong Chun, the policy was formulated in 1985, but was put on hold due to protests from fishermen nationwide.
When contacted, Chia said that other than the tightening of minimum mesh size from the current 22mm to 38mm, the new policy also required licence holders to be onboard when the ship is at sea, as well as prohibiting the hiring of foreign crew.
Chia argued that the authority’s reasoning that larger mesh will allow fish fry to escape does not quite happen in reality. “What happens is that once they get into the net with bigger fish, they will be crushed by the larger fish when the net is hauled up, if they do not fall back into the sea. This is wasteful,” said Chia, adding that fishermen could still sell the bycatch to fish farms as feed or to feedmills as fertiliser.
“The new ruling will deprive fishermen of the extra income they had been obtaining all these years from the sale of bycatch.”
Chia also maintained that fishermen had no choice as far as foreign workers are concerned as locals simply do not want the job.
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Tags / Keywords:
Environment, fishermen, strike
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