KOTA KINABALU: Coastguards in Sabah believe syndicates are involved in fish bombing activities around the state.
Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) director for Sabah Rear Admiral Kamaruszaman Abu Hassan said this is based on information and observations gathered from their continuous operations so far.
He said there was obviously a demand for homemade explosives and even bombed fish in the state with their latest seizure of over 30kg of such fish from a market in Kota Belud district on Wednesday (July 10).
It is learnt that bombed fish are cheaper in price.
Kamaruszaman said officials from the Immigration and Fisheries Department were also involved in the Kota Belud raid.
“The sellers ran away when they saw enforcement officials approaching so we did not manage to catch any suspects,” he said on Thursday (July 11).
“There has to be a syndicate, they (suspects) won’t move alone,” he said, adding that though a huge part of the materials used to make fish bombs are widely available in public, some important components including detonators are not.
Kamaruszaman also believed that fish bombing activities would be hard to stop, as long as illegal immigrants or undocumented people are able to operate normally.
“During our raids and patrols, those who flee must either be illegal immigrants, undocumented or those who have committed some form of crime or else they would have just remained there,” he said.
“This is why we think that most of those involved in such activities are not genuine citizens of this country,” he said.
Kamaruszaman said apart from fish bombs, these people were also using sodium cyanide (a type of poison) to catch fish faster and more easily.
Areas of abundance of fish are usually around corals and reefs, as well as oil rigs.
“These people are not even worried about fish blasting near oil rigs and we are working with oil and gas companies to identify and put a stop to such activities at these high risk areas,” he said.
Whether they were pushing for harsher punishments on fish bombers and traders who sell bombed fish, he said "not yet" as the existing penalties including fine, jail terms and even whipping were strict enough.
Kamaruszaman said the problem was to nab suspects, and not the penalties and punishments per se.
"We hope everyone can cooperate with us and stop buying bombed or poisoned fish, and to inform us immediately if they suspect such catch are being sold or if they hear of such activities being carried out,” he said.