KUCHING: The newly-launched Sarawak Coastguard will work with other maritime agencies to protect the state's coastal waters from encroachment, specifically within gazetted marine parks, says Datuk Abang Johari Openg.
The Chief Minister said the Coastguard's area of operations covered the Similajau National Park, Tanjung Datu National Park, Talang-Satang National Park, Miri-Sibuti Coral Reefs National Park, Santubong National Park, Limbang Mangrove National Park, Bruit National Park and Luconia Shoals National Park with a total area of over 1.2 million hectares.
"The state government decided to set up the Coastguard because of our large area of marine parks and long coastline.
"Sometimes foreign fishermen encroach into our coastal waters, so we will work with the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) to protect our waters," he told reporters after launching the Coastguard at the Kuching Waterfront on Wednesday (April 7).
Highlighting the importance of the Coastguard, Abang Johari said there were recent sightings of endangered sperm whales as well as minke whales in the Luconia Shoals National Park.
"The sperm whale is on the international conservation list and we have to protect this species, along with the marine resources in our waters," he said.
Abang Johari also said five bases would be set up for the Coastguard in Kuching, Tanjung Manis, Miri and Lawas under the 12th Malaysia Plan.
He said the state government had allocated RM90mil to procure assets for the Coastguard, which include a catamaran and six interceptor boats.
"The interceptor boats will be in operation this year to protect our fishermen and maritime resources.
"The construction of several fast patrol boats is being handled through open tender," he said.
State Security and Enforcement Unit director Datuk Dr Chai Khin Chung said the Coastguard was expected to procure nine fast patrol boats in stages in the next two years.
"With these assets, the Sarawak Coastguard will be able to fulfil its responsibilities and objectives.
"The Coastguard will operate with best practices based on the doctrine of network-centric operations to be an agile, lean and rapid-response entity," he said.