KOTA KINABALU: Sabah wants the Federal Government to lift a four-month export ban on certain types of fish, says state Agriculture and Food Industry Minister Datuk Junz Wong (pic).
He said the export ban for certain types of fish dubbed “rakyat fishes” by the Fisheries Development Authority of Malaysia (LKIM) was enforced in January and February 2020, and will come into effect between April 15 and June 15 this year.
The fish species banned like mackerel, pomfret, yellowtail scad and prawns was to ensure sufficient supply and avoid a price surge during the Chinese New Year and Hari Raya Aidilfitri festive seasons and also monsoon seasons.
“The ban has taken a toll on the fisheries industry, affecting not only fishermen but also the economy of Sabah, ” he said, adding that prawns were never included in the list of fishery products that were banned from export.
“This is very challenging for prawn fishermen who are facing tremendous challenges and a lot of them may not survive and can close down, ” he said in calling for an exemption to Sabah in the export ban.
“The blanket ban is not suitable and should not be applied in Sabah for various reasons, ” he said, explaining that Sabah had consistently achieved self-sufficiency levels.
He said in 2018, Sabah’s total fish exports was 71,289 metric tonnes, while the imports were only 16,662 metric tonnes.
“In the same year, our exports fetched Sabahans a total of RM876mil.
“Sabah is also the main hub for fish consumed by Malaysians. We landed 163,055 metric tonnes of fish with a value of RM945mil in 2018.
“While the ban may be suitable for Peninsular Malaysian states which have lower yields, Sabah is an exception as we have more than what we need, ” he said.
He said based on past experience, there was an increase of fish landing on the shores of Sabah every April and May.
“This catch season causes fish price to plummet as a result of oversupply.
With limited local demand in Sabah, the export ban will only cause detriment to fishermen, boat operators and the Sabah economy, ” he added.
He hoped federal Agriculture and Food Industry Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ronald Kiandee, who is from Sabah, will understand and help the fishing industry in the state by lifting the ban.
He also said with the Covid-19 affecting the country’s economy, it was important that the ban is lifted to help stimulate the economy.