Tuesday, August 11

Taking charge of fisheries industry

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Sarawak to amend law to regulate riverine and coastal fishing, set up own enforcement unit

Abang Johari (second left) directs the deployment of reef balls in Igan/Mukah waters as others look on.

OYA: The government will amend the Sarawak Fisheries Ordinance 2003 to strengthen regulatory enforcement in the state’s riverine and coastal fishing industry, says Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg.

The chief minister said the amendment would provide for Sarawak to have, among
others, its own enforcement unit to enforce fishing laws in the state.

Sarawak Forestry Corporation personnel prepare to launch a reef ball into the waters of Igan/Mukah.

“We will manage and administer our own fisheries industry in a structured manner and we will amend the laws. This will enable our fishermen to have specific regulations and also to prevent encroachment in state waters,” he said when officiating at the launching of reef balls in Igan/Mukah waters, here yesterday.

According to Abang Johari, he had instructed the State Attorney-General’s Chamber to study the existing laws, with an eye on tabling the amendment during the State Legislative Assembly (DUN) sitting in April next year.

He said the initial target was to table it during the DUN sitting next month, but that the state’s lawyers were still studying the matter.

“Then we will have our own enforcement team or in other words our own marine police. We can arrest whoever steals our fish according to our laws.”

Sarawak Forestry Corporation general manager Oswald Braken Tisen briefs Abang Johari (right) and others on the deployment of reef balls in Igan/Mukah waters.

He pointed out that under the Federal Constitution, coastal and riverine fishing come under the power of the state, meaning the Sarawak government has the right to amend the law to meet the needs of the state.

When met after the event, Abang Johari said enforcement will involve the State Security and Enforcement Unit under the Chief Minister’s Office.

“Maybe we will have to provide them with boats or water vessels that can be used to patrol our coastal areas,” he said.

Meanwhile, he revealed that he would be announcing in November’s DUN sitting an assistance scheme for fishermen who are deprived of income during the monsoon season.

This, he pointed out, was due to the federal government’s decision to stop giving such aid.

On the reef balls, the Chief Minister said it was from the RM70 million allocation which the Sarawak government had announced last year, to install 16,800 reef balls along the coast from Tanjung Datu in Lundu up to Lawas.

He said the federal government had also stopped giving Sarawak assistance for this purpose, which he described as piecemeal in nature.

According to him, the reef balls are important as they have proven to be effective at increasing the marine population and also deterring illegal trawling.

Abang Johari (third right) officiates at the event, witnessed by (from right) Hanifah, Len Talif, Fatimah, Deputy State Secretary Datu Mohd Abu Bakar Marzuki.

Welfare, Community Well Being, Women, Family and Childhood Development Minister Dato Sri Fatimah Abdullah, who is Dalat assemblywoman; Assistant Minister of Urban Development and Resources Datu Len Talif Salleh, who is Kuala Rajang assemblyman; and Mukah MP Datuk Hanifah Taib were among those present at the event.