Johor coastal fishermen want to diversify

Coastal fishermen in Johor say they need to supplement their income as their catch was dwindling. — Filepic

GELANG PATAH: Coastal fishermen are hoping the Federal and Johor governments will support their proposal to diversify to improve the fishing sector in south Johor.

Johor South Fishermen Association chairman Azli Mohd Aziz said they had proposed to the Agriculture and Agro-based Industry Ministry to organise courses for the fishermen to venture into the agro-tourism sector.

He said this would help them to diversify and reduce their dependency on income from selling their catch.

He said coastal fishermen needed to supplement their income as their catch was dwindling due to developments taking place in areas in south Johor in recent years.

“Large scale land reclamation projects along the shoreline have affected our livelihood as the fishing zones for us have shrunk,’’ said Azli, 55.

He said their income had dropped by about 60% in the last five years due to the land reclamation projects.

“The ministry could work with the Marine Department to train and issue licences to our members as helmsmen to cater to anglers,’’ he said, adding that it cost RM1,500 to acquire the licence.

Azli said there was demand from anglers and fishing enthusiasts, including those from Singapore, to hire boats from the fishermen but they did not have the licence to take them out to fish at sea.

There are about 2,500 coastal fishermen in south Johor and their fishing areas within 10 nautical miles cover Tanjung Piai, Iskandar Puteri, Pulai, Johor Baru, Pasir Gudang and Tebrau.

Fisherman Yaacob Mohd Said, 65, said there were plans by the previous state government to develop Pulau Juling near Kong Kong, Masai, as an agro-tourism product with a resort and a seafood restaurant.

“We hope the state government will consider developing the project for our benefit,’’ he said.

Yaacob said more efforts were needed at the federal and state levels to attract younger people to become fishermen.

He said the private sector could play a role by investing in the fisheries industry and modernise it.

Orang Asli fisherman Komeng Ohkimheng, 50, said he could get about RM600 a day for his catch back in 2010, before the coastal areas were reclaimed for development projects.

“Now I am happy if I can get about RM200.

“Often our catch is just about RM30,’’ he said.

Komeng said the mangrove swamps, a natural breeding ground for mud crabs (ketam bangkang) and mangrove snails (siput sedut) along the coastal areas, had also been cleared and led to a decline in catch.

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