The illegal trawlers in the state are slowly putting inshore fisherman out of business.
And when the inshore fishermen go out at the crack of dawn, their catch is so small that sometimes it is not worth the effort.
Because of the trawlers’ encroachment, the inshore fishermen’s daily income has declined from over RM100 to mere RM20 now.
A concerned Consumers Association of Penang (CAP) wants the authorities to flush out the illegal trawlers and limit their fishing to outside the five nautical mile zone.
Its president SM Mohamed Idris said it was time for the Maritime Enforcement Agency of Malaysia (MEAM), Agriculture and Agro-Based Industry Ministry and the fisheries department to take immediate steps to resolve this serious problem.
He urged MEAM to conduct more frequent operations in Penang waters particularly the south-west district to stop trawlers encroaching into inshore fishermen zone.
CAP’s study revealed these trawlers’ were seriously affecting livelihood of over 2,000 inshore fishermen in Sungai Pinang, Pantai Acheh, Jalan Baru, Sungai Burung, Teluk Kumbar, Sungai Batu, Gertak Sanggul, Telok Tempoyak, Permatang Damar Laut and Batu Maung.
The trawlers’ illegal operations have caused a dwindling of fish and prawns, which were the main catch of inshore fishermen.
“Many inshore fishers also suffer major losses due to their fishing gears being destroyed after colliding with trawlers,” said Idris.
CAP has received complaints from inshore fishermen that the trawlers dredge up both big and small fishes, even fries that cannot be eaten or sold.
“We are concerned that if this situation continues, our fisheries resources will collapse in 10 years’ time,” he said.
CAP plans to join forces with inshore fishermen in Penang to launch a “Ban of Trawler Nets” signature campaign soon.