KOTA KINABALU: WWF Malaysia is calling for increased efforts to combat illegal fish-bombing activities that have been occurring in Sabah for decades.
WWF Malaysia's interim marine head Monique Sumampouw said fish-bombing was a matter of life and death, which not only affects marine life but human beings as well.
WWF-Malaysia urges the authorities to urgently stop "Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU)" fishing, in particular fish bombs and the ban of pump boats.
Pump boats are typically small, cheaply-made vessels usually associated with illegal fishing activities and used by illegal immigrants.
In a statement on Sunday (July 7), WWF-Malaysia also called for increased patrolling and monitoring, as well as strengthening enforcement to prevent fish bombing.
She said that there was a need to tackle the problem which was "serious and reoccurring" for decades in Sabah.
Based on a four-month study conducted by WWF-Malaysia in Semporna between June-September 2018, a total of 263 fish-bombing was recorded.
"It is shocking that just within a four-month study period, we recorded an average of 65 fish-bombing cases in 2018. Clearly, urgent action needs to be carried out immediately to combat fish bombing," Sumampouw said.
The WWF statement comes in wake of the deaths of three divers in Semporna on Friday in what police suspect was due to fish-bombing activities near a dive site in the district's Pulau Kalapuan waters.
She said WWF-Malaysia was deeply troubled by the deaths of the divers.
"We would like to express our sincere sympathy to the family of the divers and their friends.
"Their deaths are tragic, and we do not wish them upon anyone else.
"This method of collecting fish is not only illegal, it is harmful for it uses explosives that pose great danger to people and destroy fish habitats such as coral reefs," Sumampouw added.
"Ceasing IUU fishing is an investment towards our future – to safeguard and conserve our marine life as well as protect our people.
Let us not lose our marine life as we have lost our rhinoceros in the wild," Sumampouw added.