KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 4 ― Nearly a million tonnes or roughly 50 per cent of Malaysia's marine catches worth between RM3 to RM6 billion a year are lost to neighbouring countries.
Berita Harian reported that Fisheries Department director general Datuk Munir Mohd Nawi said only 50 per cent of catches are landed in Malaysia and is a reflection on how serious the situation really is.
“If we don't take this matter seriously, we will not be able to sustain the 1.8 million tonnes of bio-mass worth RM18.1 billion. There's a high number of foreign fishermen trespassing in Malaysia's East Coast waters ― Kelantan, Terengganu and Pahang because it is a vast location,” Munir said.
Since last year, various Malaysian authorities busted 256 foreign vessels and confiscated RM180 million worth of marine catches. A total of 2,199 foreign fishing crew from Thailand, Indonesia and Vietnam were arrested.
Traitorous fishermen and fishing boat operators are said to be renting out their permits to foreign companies and syndicates for easy money. These traitors receive between RM5,000 to RM10,000 a month for their permits.
The Malay daily reported that the “fishermen” would never go to sea and only make an appearance when renewing their permits or when foreigners using their permits are arrested.
The best catches in Malaysia, including squids, fishes, and prawns are not sold in Malaysia but in foreign shores. To make things worse, these foreign trespassers are using illegal and environmentally destructive ways to land their catch.
Through their unethical means, these foreign fishing fleets can rake in hundreds of thousands of ringgit in a week which they sold to massive, foreign-owned vessels outside of Malaysian sovereign waters ― making arrests difficult.
So far, the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) have identified 15 hotspots mostly frequented by Vietnamese fishing fleets out to rob Malaysia of its marine wealth.
MMEA Enforcement chief Maritime Captain Robert Teh Geok Chuan said his agencies identified the locations through monitoring and observation.
Among the 15 hot spots identified include: 70 nautical miles east of Kelantan; 30 nautical miles east of Terengganu; the Malaysia-Thailand border; the waters surrounding Bungaraya Alfa oil derrick; Puteri Dulang and Jernih; and the waters surrounding Perhentian Island till Tengol and Johor's east coast.
Teh said the high quality seafood is the main attraction behind these foreign fishing fleets and the nation will lose out if this is not taken seriously.