KOTA KINABALU: Sabah is working with United Nations-aligned bodies to achieve sustainable fish stocks that have been depleting due to over-fishing and illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing methods including fish-bombing.
State Agriculture and Food Industry Minister Datuk Junz Wong (pic) said the state Fisheries Department was working with the UN's Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) to achieve Sustainable Development Goals 14 - sustainability below the water - in its fisheries sector.
"Sabah fish stocks are decreasing in many areas, they are already low in 90% of the 30 areas surveyed due to IUU," Wong said Tuesday (Feb 4).
He was speaking after fresh calls by divers urging the government to take steps to end fish-bombing activities that were destroying coral reefs. Recreational divers have recorded more than a hundred fish bomb blasts around protected marine park islands across Sabah between July and December last year.
However, Wong said that ESCAP has noted that based on published research carried out over the last five years in Sabah, there was a significant drop in blast fishing methods throughout Sabah.
The ESCAP report also noted that divers still heard the occasional blasting
noise and several close incidents between blasters and divers have been recently reported.
In a bid to put in a place comprehensive, sustainable fish stocks, Wong said the state government hoped to also mitigate other forms of IUU fishing and over-harvesting of edible marine life.
He said the ESCAP report advised for a concise plan for aquaculture to curb wild edible marine life demand and a programme to restock natural marine life populations.
He said the state Fisheries Department has already written to ESCAP to confirm its willingness to work towards achieving SDG 14 and Reef Defenders (RD).
Wong said the state Fisheries Department was setting up a small working group of about three to five people to prepare ideas and draft a document for the purpose of UN scrutiny.
Wong said that such efforts would help put Sabah on the international map with regards to efforts in attaining sustainable fisheries.
"Sabah will be able to apply for a grant from the UN for aquaculture," he said, adding that it would reflect on the state's efforts to solve the over-exploitation of seafood stocks in Sabah, and not just a piecemeal approach to parts of the issue.
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