KOTA KINABALU: Coastguards have vowed to work closely with Eastern Sabah Security Command (Esscom) to combat the fish bombing menace following the deaths of three divers in Semporna waters.
Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) Sabah director Rear Admiral Kamaruszaman Abu Hassan said they had sent their vessels to assist Esscom in the wake of the tragedy.
He said the deaths of the divers, which included two Chinese nationals, shocked the maritime community in Sabah’s eastern Semporna area and also cast a shadow on the credibility of the coastguards in dealing with fish bombing.
Malaysian divemaster Ab Zainal Abdu, 30, Zhao Zhong, 26, and Xu Yingjie, 26, were killed in the waters off Pulau Kalapuan on Friday.
Police are investigating the case, which is believed to be the first involving deaths of divers from fish bombing activities.
MMEA assets in the east coast have been sent to the area to assist the security forces in tracking down the suspects.
Rear Admiral Kamaruszaman said that Sabah MMEA had been dealing with the fish bombing problems through special operations in the west coast areas of Sabah since May.
He said special operations were carried out in waters off Kota Belud, Pulau Gaya, and Pulau Mantanani after they received complaints that recreational diving activities could not be carried out due to rampant fish bombing.
Fish bombing carried out by illegal immigrants was one of the most serious issues raised during a recent meeting with various stakeholders that included the Fisheries Department, Marine Department and Immigration Department, he said.
“We have also identified the areas where the suspects live,” he said, adding that they were taking actions to wipe out the problem through integrated operations involving multi-enforcement agencies.
Rear Admiral Kamaruszaman, meanwhile, advised dive operators to follow safety procedures to avoid mishaps.
“Divers must take extra precaution to look around their sea surface and place a buoy to inform others that diving activities are taking place,” he said.