Demand fuels fish bombing in Sabah, says MMEA

Sabah Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency director Kamaruszaman Abu Hassan (centre) shows a bottle containing fertiliser and other materials seized from suspected fish bombers at Pulau Gaya, off Kota Kinabalu yesterday.

KOTA KINABALU: Demand for fish caught using explosives is among the reasons behind the rampant incidents of fish bombing in Sabah, said the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA).

Sabah MMEA director Kamaruszaman Abu Hassan noted that syndicates are more than keen to meet this demand, cashing in on people’s desire to acquire a food item at a lower price.

It is understood that fish caught using explosives are sold for much less in the market.

This was based on information from surveillance and operations statewide, particularly during a raid in the rural district of Kota Belud yesterday, Kamaruszaman said.

He said his men seized over 30kg of fish believed to have been caught using bombs at a fish market.

Immigration and fisheries officers were also involved in the operation.

“We did not arrest anyone because the sellers managed to escape when they saw enforcement officers approaching. However, there is obviously a demand for bombed fish in the state.

“There has to be a syndicate. They (suspects) will not move alone,” he told reporters at the MMEA headquarters.

Kamaruszaman said the MMEA also seized two boats during a routine check near Pulau Gaya, off the state capital, yesterday and found material used to make fish bombs.

“There were people on the boat but they jumped into the sea and escaped as we approached them. Inside the boat were detonators and a bottle containing fertiliser,” he said.

He said their investigation showed that those involved in fish bombing activities were mainly illegal immigrants.

Fish bombings will not end if the illegal immigrant issue is not addressed and the contents for fish bombs are easily obtained, he said.

“In the east coast, we have information that people can easily get the material, either locally or from outside the country.”

Kamaruszaman said fish bombers care little for the environment or people’s safety as they are brave enough to even catch fish near oil platforms.

“We are working with oil and gas companies to try and put a stop to such activities at these high-risk areas,” he said.

He said some of those involved even resort to using sodium cyanide, a type of poison, to catch fish. This chemical could potentially harm humans who consume the catch.

“That is why we are asking the people not to support fish bombing. Don’t buy bombed fish,” he said.