KOTA KINABALU: Tonnes of caged fish were destroyed in Sabah’s interior Kinabatangan district, the second time in less than a year.
It is believed that river pollution caused the fish to die.
The fish, reared by villagers at Kampung Mumiang in the country’s Ramsar site (a wetland site of international importance under the Ramsar Convention) were worth thousands and fed hundreds of people.
Mumiang, located in the Lower Kinabatangan Segama Wetlands, has no road access and is about an hour away by speedboat from Sandakan town.
The village’s Development and Security Committee head Mada Hussin said after the first incident in November last year, the authorities collected water samples and gave new fish stocks based on a subsidy mechanism to the affected villagers.
“Now, most fish from this new stock have been destroyed.
“We only managed to salvage a few of them the moment we noticed something amiss.
“We want the Government to review its policies on collecting water and other relevant samples,” he said.
He said the villagers had no choice but to continue rearing caged fish with the hope that the incident would not repeat in future.
Mada added that the investigating agencies should review their Standard Operating Procedures as the delay in collecting samples did not translate into data that would be useful for mitigation or enforcement measures.
He said in the latest incident in July, some 45 families lost four tonnes of caged fish such as groupers and snappers worth thousands of ringgit.
Mada said the Malangking river, a tributary of the Kinabatangan, might be polluted with run-off from an oil palm estate, especially during a downpour.
“There is nothing we can do, for example in terms of taking legal action against those who pollute the Malangking river or other waterways, impacting our livelihoods,” Mada said.
He suggested the setting up of sampling stations to enable community wardens to collect samples more frequently, quickly and get data collected by the community to be recognised.
Reacting to what happened in Mumiang, Ramsar Community Group Project lead facilitator Neville Yapp said a key focus of the project was related to water quality.
“We have identified the setting up of four water quality monitoring units in the near future under this project,” he added.