PUTRAJAYA: Only half of the 800,000 tonnes of fish caught in Malaysian waters make it to shore every year, says the Fisheries Department.
Its director-general Datuk Munir Mohd Nawi said one of the reasons was because local fisherman were selling their catch to their counterparts in foreign vessels. And the trade is conducted in the middle of the sea.
“The department is very concerned and we take continuous action to address the issue. One of it is by tightening the conditions of renewing fishing licences.
“Deep sea vessels must record a minimum 250 tonnes of fish landings in a year, for those using pukat tunda (trawl net) and 350 tonnes for those using pukat jerut (purse seine – a wall of netting placed in an area). Only if they make the minimum landings can they renew their licences,” Munir told reporters here.
Munir said trawler operators who violated their licensing terms risked having their licences suspended or revoked. “Currently, 472 trawler operators have had their licences revoked for violating the Fisheries Act.
“There are in total 1,120 local trawler operators, and 10% or about 100 are expected to face problems renewing their licences for not fulfilling licensing conditions,” he said.
Munir also said the Automatic Identification System (AIS), as well as the Vessel Monitoring System (VMS), were among measures introduced to prevent fishing resources losses.
“There have been many reports of Vietnamese vessels encroaching on Malaysian waters, particularly in the east coast of Peninsular Malaysia. Through the AIS, any report of encroachment will be forwarded to the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency for further action.
“Through the VMS, the department has detected 128 foreign vessels encroaching on Malaysian waters, nearly half of them from Vietnam.
“Since 2016, there have been 256 cases of foreign vessels being caught in Malaysian waters and the authorities have seized some RM180mil worth of assets.
“Some 2,199 crew of foreign vessels, mostly from Vietnam, Indonesia and Thailand, have been arrested in that period,” he said.