PUTRAJAYA, June 19 — A total of 980,000 tonnes of seafood worth between RM3 billion and RM6 billion is lost annually due to illegal fishing activities, says Fisheries Department Director-General Datuk Ismail Abu Hassan.
He said it was estimated only about 50 per cent of seafood caught in local waters was landed in the country while the rest were not reported.
“There are two forms of leakages. Firstly, foreign fishermen invading the country’s waters and secondly, local fishermen selling their catch to foreign fishermen,” he told reporters here today.
Ismail hoped the Government would provide an allocation to the Fisheries Department to add nine more ships to strengthen enforcement operations, especially in hot spots along the east coast of Peninsular Malaysia.
“Currently, the enforcement department has 380 personnel, and 40 ships, most of which are aged. Provisions are required for the repair of existing ships and adding new assets,” he said.
On enforcement, Ismail said a total of 184 cases were recorded by the department this year for various offences involving vessels (boats) and unlicensed equipment, intrusion, use of foreign crew and using prohibited equipment.
For offences involving vessels, he said the department had auctioned the catches totalling RM260,351, while RM423,100 in fines were imposed.
“The Fisheries Department also detained three foreign fishing vessels, one from Thailand and the rest from Vietnam. The value of seizures was RM7 million,” he added.
In the meantime, he said the department was proposing to make it compulsory for Zone B and C fishing vessels to install Automated Identification System (AIS) from next January to facilitate monitoring by the authorities.
“However, the matter is subject to the decision of the Cabinet,” said Ismail, adding that about 2,630 AIS had been given free of charge to trawlers in Zone B and C nationwide last year. — Bernama