JOHOR BARU: Vietnamese trawlers in eastern Johor waters have had an adverse impact on the marine ecosystem and livelihood of local fishermen in Sedili.
Sedili Fishermen’s Association chairman Abd Majid Abd Rahman said fish from Sedili used to be very cheap, with people coming all the way from Pahang to buy directly from the fishermen.
“People are now calling fish from Sedili ikan emas (golden fish) because it is expensive and there is hardly any fish in the area,” he said.
The price of fish had risen by 50% on average, with some types going up by even more.
For example, fishermen said, ikan kembung (mackerel) used to cost about RM6 per kg but now cost RM10 to RM12.
“The Vietnamese take everything and leave nothing for the locals. If this continues, we will have to find other means to survive.”
Local fishermen said their catch had shrunk by almost 50% since the foreign fishing vessels arrived.
They said the situation was now worsening with the monsoon as locals do not go out to sea but the Vietnamese, whose vessels are larger, were undeterred by the weather.
In addition, the illegal fishing vessels also posed a danger to people and property.
Mohd Yusof Abdullah, 61, said he lost thousands of ringgit after his fish traps were damaged by the Vietnamese.
Another fisherman, Azrin Othman, 25, said the Vietnamese fishermen did not think twice about putting local fishermen in danger.
“Once, they even dragged a local fisherman’s boat when it was caught in their net,” he said.
Another fisherman, Ali, 62, said he once saw the “mother ship” – used by the smaller fishing vessels as a supply and storage centre – at sea not far from Sedili jetty.
“It was about a month ago. I was on my way back after a fishing trip late one evening when I saw bright lights nearby.
“I saw many Vietnamese boats hovering around a big vessel that looked like a floating city,” he said.