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3 foreign vessels found ‘fish bombing’ off Sabah coast

 | September 12, 2017

The authorities, who have identified the culprits and their modus operandi, aim to put an end to such activities.

sabahKOTA KINABALU: The Sabah government and security enforcers have identified at least three foreign vessels conducting blast fishing in Sabah’s waters.

Sabah Tourism, Culture and Environment Assistant Minister Pang Nyuk Ming said these ‘motherships’ used between six and eight smaller boats to do the bombing in nearby waters.

The smaller boats will then send their harvests to the vessels for processing onboard.

“The good news is they are not locals, so we can say awareness is increasing. The bad news is, they are in our waters and stealing our marine resources.

“This is why we are more concerned about these big players than our own smaller-scale fishermen who resort to fish bombing to feed their families,” he said.

Pang added that the fish caught using this method were seldom sold in the market because consumers were smarter now and would not buy bombed fish.

Instead, he said, these fish were processed onboard the ships for “other uses”.

He said the state government was seeking help from the marine police and the navy to drive these intruding fishermen away.

The perpetrators, he said, had been conducting the illegal activities for “quite some time”.

Most of their activities are concentrated on the open sea, and not along the coastal areas.

All the ships are registered overseas. However, Pang refused to disclose which countries the ships are from.

“The only thing I can say is, they operate in our better fishing areas. I cannot say much because it might interfere with our operations,” he said.

He said the government was also aware of the importance of stopping fish bombing by the locals, admitting that it was still rampant among the coastal communities.

“However, we cannot simply punish them. We need to give them options to lead a better life. Therefore, we have come up with various programmes, such as fish farming and even tourism, to help them,” he said.

On Mantanani Island, he said, the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) had conducted a long-term project since 2015 to educate the locals on environmental conservation. Since then, said Pang, fish bombing activities had gone down drastically.


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