Authorities having issues nabbing those using illegal fishing methods in Sabah's rivers

KOTA KINABALU: Authorities are having trouble nabbing and prosecuting those who use poison and other illegal tools to fish in Sabah's rivers.

Agriculture, Fisheries and Food Industry assistant minister Peto Galim said although they get verbal complaints of such incidents, no one has been arrested and prosecuted over the past few years.

"This is because offenders or suspects are cunning and they would get rid of evidence very quickly once wind of their activities are found out," he said at the State Assembly question and answer session here, Wednesday (April 24).

He said using spearguns, electrocution and poisoning are some of the methods that are not allowed and added that it is the duty of local or community leaders such as village chiefs to monitor activities in their respective areas.

"Offenders can be fined up to RM50,000, jailed up to two years, or both upon conviction," said Peto.

He said apart from civil law, native laws in villages also allows village chiefs or local leaders to penalise offenders.

On a supplementary question by Telupid assemblyman Datuk Jonnybone Kurum asking if the ministry was aware of alleged river poisoning in two districts from Labuk (Sandakan) up to Telupid, the Inanam assemblyman said they were aware.

"We have not received information on this. However, we will investigate and give a written report," Peto said.

Jonnybone responded by saying it was surprising that such a serious issue is not known, when he had informed the Fisheries Department of the matter, and the matter was widely circulated in social media.

Earlier, the assembly heard that measures were in place to curb illegal fishing practises in rivers in Sabah, which are also used as the source for bathing and cooking.

Peto said enforcement was being strengthened, dialogues and awareness campaigns were held while more Tagal (native conservation) areas were created.

There were currently a total of 628 Tagal involving 227 rivers cared for by the natives in Sabah.

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