PETALING JAYA: Fishermen have been warned against going out to sea as Tropical Storm Pabuk forms off the coasts between Terengganu, Kelantan and Sarawak.
But risking strong winds and big waves to put food on the table is nothing new for Azmi Awang, 44.
The fisherman is fearful of storms in the South China Sea but said they had never stopped him from braving dangerous waters to eke out a living.
“I have no other choice because this is the only way I earn a living. If I don’t try my luck at sea, we will have less to get by,” he said.
The father of three from Marang, Terengganu, said he is lucky to bring home between RM40 and RM150 for his family to buy food during the monsoon months.
During fairer weather, he can earn up to RM800.
Azmi said he is the sole breadwinner for his family and will do all he can to provide for his wife and children, aged between 11 and 15.
He has been a fisherman ever since he completed his SPM and typically goes out to sea with at least three others.
The fishermen work together to bring in their catch and to get home safely in their fibreglass boat.
“We were once caught in a storm where there were three of us in the boat. Two of my friends pulled in the fish and I was in charge of bailing out the water from the boat or we would have sunk,” he said.
As a safety precaution, Azmi checks the weather and sea conditions through a mobile application and identifies nearby islands to take shelter if necessary.
Azmi is aware that Pabuk, which is the Laotian word for Big Fresh Water Fish, is expected to hit the east coast today and tomorrow.
The Fire and Rescue Department has advised the public against going anywhere near beaches during the storm.
Director-general Datuk Mohammad Hamdan Wahid said the department has heightened monitoring and surveillance during the monsoon season and will continue to do so as Pabuk approaches.
“We have also embarked on campaigns to remind the public to stay safe especially near water,” he said.
He said 10,000 personnel are on standby nationwide to respond to any emergency during the monsoon season.
Terengganu Fire and Rescue Department director Azlimin Mat Noor said his men are also preparing for the storm.
In Kelantan, department director Nazili Mahmood urged people to put off leisure activities including exercising near shorelines during the storm.
“The high waves are unpredictable and it is best not to underestimate them,” he said.