Fisherman association pleads for understanding, flexibility

TAWAU: The Sabah Fishery and Fishermen Boat Association has made a plea to the Maritime Operation Force (MOF) and the Immigration Department to understand its concept and practice of lending and borrowing the services of foreign crew workers among the association’s members instead of detaining their boats and trawlers.

According to the association’s chairman, Arsani Arsat, the crews used by the operators in the fishing industry comprise mostly of foreigners and a fishing boat or a trawler would not be able to go out to sea if any of the crew was sick or went on leave.

“The members have an understanding of utilising the services of crews from amongst ourselves who do not go out to sea,” he said.

Arsani however expressed disappointment that after a meeting held on March 5 with the MOF in Kota Kinabalu to explain and resolve the issue facing the boat operators, the latter instead despatched its personnel to Kudat and detained trawlers using the services of crewmen on loan from other members.

“During the meeting, the MOF and the Immigration Department gave the assurance that they would give some flexibility and to find a solution on the borrowing of crewmen, but ten days later they went to Kudat and detained a boat only because two of the crewmen were loaned,” he said, adding the boat was also held for ten days.

“The problem was the crewmen on loan. Among the trawler operators, we are friends and we have to borrow our friend’s crew when we are short of one or two in order to go out to sea,” he said.

“Do trawlers pose a threat to security that they also have to be detained for investigation?” he asked.

“We agree on the law, but we urge for flexibility because of the prevailing circumstances in the industry. The workers do not run away like they do in the plantation sector.

“There is a strong understanding among the boat operators and we hope for some consideration from the authorities concerned over the matter,” he said.

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