Shafie wants maximum punishment for fish bomb users

Sabah Chief Minister Shafie Apdal says fish bombs are a perennial problem in the state.

KOTA KINABALU: Sabah Chief Minister Shafie Apdal wants those involved in the fish bombing incident that caused the death of three divers in Semporna to receive the highest punishment under the law.

He also wants the authorities to investigate how the perpetrators could have easily obtained the contents needed to make fish bombs.

“Stiff action must be taken against those involved in the use of fish bombs. This issue is not new,” he said, describing it as a perennial problem in Sabah.

“As the Semporna MP, I had called for action to tackle the menace,” he told reporters after officiating the Petronas Education Sponsorship Award here today.

Two Chinese tourists and a local divemaster were killed in a blast, believed to be caused by fish bombs, off Pulau Kalapuan in Semporna on Friday.

Zhao Zhong and Xu Yingjie, both 26, and diving instructor Ab Zainal Abdu, 30, were diving near the island at about 5pm.

Police have arrested a boatman, aged 24, and a guide, 23. A hunt is going on for other suspects, said to be mostly sea gypsies.

Shafie called on villagers in Semporna to help the authorities in their probe. He said those who knew of those who used fish bombs should come forward.

He said it was known that some fishermen resorted to using fish bombs and cyanide to catch fish but warned that the catch could be detrimental to health.

Asked if the state government would ban pump boats, which are claimed to be behind incidents of fish bombing, Shafie said they were not a major contributor.

“They are only the vehicles. What we need to restrict are the contents for the bombs, how they are obtained and whether they are available inside the state or brought in from outside,” he said.

On a separate issue, Shafie said he had spoken to Petronas president Wan Zulkiflee Wan Ariffin on ways to further help Sabah oil and gas players.

He said although Sabah contractors had been given business opportunities by Petronas previously, they needed to improve their capabilities.

Upko Youth had urged Petronas to give bigger opportunities to Sabah oil and gas contractors whom, it says, are awarded only small-time jobs compared to established players.

Earlier, WWF-Malaysia interim head of marine, Monique Sumampouw, said that fish bombings were not only illegal but also posed a great danger to people and result in the destruction of fish habitats, such as coral reefs.

“Curbing the activities is an investment for our future – to safeguard and conserve our marine life as well as protect people.

“Let us not lose our marine life just like we have lost our rhinoceros in the wild,” she said in a statement.

She said that it was important for enforcement activities to be strengthened by increasing patrolling to deter fish-bombing activities.

A total of 263 fish-bombing cases were recorded from June to September in Semporna last year during a study conducted by WWF-Malaysia, Sumampouw added.