Growing calls for crackdown

  • Nation
  • Monday, 08 Jul 2019

In ruins: Degraded corals from fish bomb activities in Sabah waters. — Pix courtesy WWF-Malaysia/Eric Madeja

KOTA KINABALU: Voices are growing stronger for firm action against fish-bombing activities in Sabah as police continue to track down the suspects behind the deaths of three divers in the diving haven of Semporna.

Political leaders and environmentalists are demanding for more deterrent action against such offenders as Sabah’s maritime and tourism community reeled in shock over the deaths, believed to have been caused by a fish bomb.

The victims were diving near Pulau Kalapuan on Friday.

Police have classified the case as murder.

Investigators believe the culprits are illegal immigrants living on some of the islands in Semporna who often use pump boats – small boats fitted with water pumps – to move around the islands.

Chief Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie Apdal said it was time for “stern action” to be taken as such bombing activities had being going on for so long with damaging effects on the environment.

He also wanted the authorities to track down the supply sources of the detonators.

However, he did not think there was a need as yet to reimpose the ban on pump boats, sometimes dubbed scooters of the sea.

Speaking to reporters yesterday, Shafie also supported calls of many state leaders for stiffer penalties against those involved in fish-bombing activities.

WWF – Malaysia called for urgent efforts by authorities to combat such illegal activities that were now a “life and death” issue.

WWF – Malaysia’s interim head of marine Monique Sumampouw called for all-out efforts to stop “illegal, unreported and unregulated” fishing, in particular fish bombs and also banning of pump boats, which were usually associated with illegal fishing activities.

She urged for increased patrolling and monitoring, as well as strengthening of enforcement to prevent illegal fish bombing.

Based on a four-month study conducted by WWF-Malaysia in Semporna between June and September 2018, a total of 263 fish bombings were recorded.

She said WWF-Malaysia was deeply troubled by the deaths of divers in Semporna possibly attributed to fish bombing.

“Their deaths are tragic,” she said.

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