KUALA LUMPUR: Some 300 fishermen from the East Coast gathered outside Parliament on Tuesday (July 16) morning to hand over a memorandum to voice their concerns over several issues that they claimed have affected their livelihood.
Carrying banners, the fishermen from Kelantan, Terengganu and Pahang chanted slogans using loud-hailers, urging the government to take action against foreign fishermen.
They claimed that Vietnamese fishermen had encroached into Malaysian waters and that local licensed boats were leased out to foreign nationals.
A spokesman for the fishermen, Bahiyuddin Awang, said that their catch had been reduced by almost 50% in the past few years because of Vietnamese fishermen.
“We are afraid that one day, we won't be able to fish at all. Sometimes, we come back with nothing,” he said.
The memorandum, addressed to Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, was accepted by Agriculture and Agro-based Industry Minister Datuk Salahuddin Ayub, who also held a half-hour discussion with several representatives of the fishermen.
Later, Salahuddin told reporters that his ministry would investigate the concerns of the fishermen and it would take about three months to come up with policies over these issues.
He said that the ministry was committed to carrying out joint operations with various enforcement agencies to ensure encroachment of fishing vessels from Vietnam did not recur.
He said that an inter-ministerial committee had been conducting “Ops Naga” since April 26 to prevent the encroachment of foreign vessels.
He added that 62 vessels had been detained, and their crews face legal action.