KUALA LUMPUR: The fate of local fishermen whose livelihoods have been affected by illegal fishing by foreigners spurred the Agriculture and Agro-based Industries Ministry to launch “Op Naga”.
The exercise prevented a loss of about RM6bil in fish catch last year.
The combined effect of the enforcement action and amendments to the Fisheries Act resulted in RM560mil in savings, which also saw auctioning of seized boats.
Home, Defence and Foreign ministries were part of the operation.
Its minister Datuk Salahuddin Ayub said that a total of 211 vessels were detained while five others were sunk for the purpose of serving as fish-breeding structures.
He said the sea ecosystem had also been saved from further damage by the activities of foreign fishermen, who had been sailing in Malaysian waters with impunity, using illegal fishing equipment.
“This was a big issue when I joined the ministry in 2018, with fishermen complaining about all sorts of things, including trespass by foreign fishing vessels, ” he added.
Of the 211 vessels detained, 148 were detected in peninsula waters, 41 in Sarawak and 22 in Sabah.
The amendments to the Act include an increase in the maximum fine from RM1mil to RM6mil on the owners or captains of vessels found trespassing, as well as a fine of RM600,000, as compared to RM100,000 previously, on each crew member. — Bernama
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