Friday, May 24

Tech to help state increase fish supply

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ALL EARS: Participants of the seminar listen to the address by Darus.

SIBU: The government has introduced the Remote Sensing Technology (RST) to the seine net fishermen in Sarawak in an attempt to turn around the low supply of fish in the state.

Head of Quality Improvement and Product Commercialisation in the Fisheries Department, Yahya Mohamad said RST was an effort between Science, Technology and Innovation Ministry and Ministry of Agriculture and Agro-based Industry to solve the problem of low catches.

He said the studies of RST were introduced in 2007 in four states in Peninsular Malaysia – Kelantan, Terengganu, Pahang and Johor.

The studies showed that the new method would not only save time and cost but also increase catch volumes, thus increasing the seine net operators’ income.

“Malaysia had a drop of 30 per cent in the supply of fish since 2005, and since the introduction of SRT in 2007, we had received positive feedback from those using the system.

“Our figures show there is 20 per cent improvement of the monthly catch for one fisherman,” he said.

He was speaking at the press conference at Tanahmas Hotel yesterday.

According to him, the new technology is able to detect schools of fish that could be exploited.

“Before this, the fishermen were only trying their luck every time they went out to fish, moving from one place to another, relying solely on their instinct from past experiences.

“So we give them the technology to enable them to fish more efficiently,” he said.

Asked whether the operators need to pay anything for the technology, he said so far the technology is provided free of charge.

However, in a year or so, the ministry would impose a minimum charge for the technology.

He believed the new technology is a useful tool and definitely more scientific in detecting schools of fish and would continue to be invaluable to the fishermen in providing more consistent income.

He also revealed that 100 vessels in West Malaysia were fitted with the new technology.

“We recorded 350,000 metric tonne of catches in 2009, and through the new technology, we expect it to increase to 430,000 metric tonne.

“The average price of a fish is RM2.50, and with the new technology we are able to generate RM1.015 billion every year,” he said.

He also said the ministry hoped to benefit 75,000 seine net fishermen through the new technology.

The director general of Malaysia Remote Sensing Agency (MRSA) Dato Darus Ahmad launched the RST seminar earlier.

Also present at the press conference was Sibu Resident representative, Khalid Andong.