KUCHING: Sarawak will buy boats for its own coast guard next year to help protect the state's coastal areas and marine resources, says Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg.
The Chief Minister said the size of the boats needed was being assessed by experts, but would likely be similar to the fast patrol boats used by the marine police.
"We are forming our own coast guard, therefore we have to buy the boats, which will be made in Sarawak.
"We will start next year when the boats are available," he told reporters after opening the Sarawak Agrofest 2019 at Celebration Square in Petra Jaya here on Friday (Nov 22).
Abang Johari also said the state's security unit was now training personnel for the proposed coast guard.
He said it would have about 50 personnel, including crew members for the boats.
"One boat will have 12 crew members and we will most likely have three boats," he said.
A sum of RM90mil was allocated to set up the Sarawak coast guard in the state's 2020 budget.
It will complement the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency and marine police in coastline protection duties.
Abang Johari also said the state's Agriculture, Native Land and Regional Development Ministry will work with the Federal Government on the issuance of fishing licences in order to develop large-scale fishing in the South China Sea.
He said Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad had requested the assistance of Sabah and Sarawak on this matter.
"The Prime Minister's rationale is this: there are a lot of fish resources in the South China Sea compared to the Straits of Melaka and he wants Malaysia to have big companies for fishing.
"So on our side, we will vet the applications (for fishing licences) and recommend them. The authority to issue licences is still Kuala Lumpur, but whatever is recommended by the state, it will more-or-less approve.
"The Federal Government will collaborate with us to build our own big companies to fish in the South China Sea," Abang Johari said.