Malaysia: Fisheries Dept: Up to RM6bil lost to illegal fishing every year

The Star 20 Jun 17;

PUTRAJAYA: A total of 980,000 tonnes of seafood worth up to RM6bil is lost annually due to illegal fishing activities, says the Fisheries Department.

Its director-general Datuk Ismail Abu Hassan said it is estimated only about 50% of seafood caught in local waters was landed in the country while the rest were not reported.

"There are two forms of leakages. Firstly, foreign fishermen invading the country's waters and secondly, local fishermen selling their catch to foreign fishermen," he told reporters here Monday.

Ismail hoped the Government would provide an allocation to the Fisheries Department to add nine more ships to strengthen enforcement operations, especially in hot spots along the east coast of Peninsular Malaysia.

"Currently, the enforcement department has 380 personnel, and 40 ships, most of which are aged. Provisions are required for the repair of existing ships and adding new assets," he said.

On enforcement, Ismail said a total of 184 cases were recorded by the Department this year for various offences involving vessels and unlicensed equipment, intrusion, use of foreign crew and using prohibited equipment.

For offences involving vessels, he said the department had auctioned the catches totalling RM260,351, while RM423,100 in fines were imposed.

"The Fisheries Department also detained three foreign fishing vessels, one from Thailand and the rest from Vietnam. The value of seizures was RM7mil," he added.

In the meantime, he said the Department was proposing to make it compulsory for Zone B and C fishing vessels to install Automated Identification System (AIS) from next January to facilitate monitoring by the authorities.

"However, the matter is subject to the decision of the Cabinet," said Ismail, adding that about 2,630 AIS units had been given free of charge to trawlers in Zone B and C nationwide last year. – Bernama

Malaysia loses RM6b annually due to illegal fishing in South China Sea
NOORSILA ABD MAJID New Straits Times 19 Jun 17;

PUTRAJAYA: Malaysia loses RM6 billion in revenue annually due to illegal fishing by encroaching foreign fishing vessels in the East Coast, said the Fisheries Department (DOF).

Describing the issue as ‘very serious’, DOF director-general Datuk Ismail Abu Hassan said most of the illegal fishermen are from Vietnam and Thailand.

“These illegal, big fishing vessels from Vietnam and Thailand purposely encroach into our waters. They steal about 980,000 metric tonnes of fish annually from us, estimated to be worth RM6 billion,” he told a press conference in his office today.

Among the hotspots are Kemaman (Terengganu), as well as Kuala Sedili and Mersing (Johor).

In the first half of the year, the DOF recorded two encroachment cases from Vietnam and one case from Thailand.

All the foreign fishing vessels have been confiscated, with total assets (including the stolen fish) worth RM7 million.

The captain of an illegal foreign fishing vessel can be fined up to RM1 million each and his crew members can be fined RM100,000 each if found guilty.

“I've also discussed the issue with my counterparts at Asean level," said Ismail.

Ismail admitted that DOF’s assets are in dire straits as they are already 25-years-old and cannot keep up with the illegal foreign boats in high speed chases.

“My department desperately needs new ships in order to protect our waters from these illegal foreign fishermen.

“In our current situation, we have to risk our lives in catching any illegal fishermen because our old ships can only travel up to 12 nautical miles per hour.

With new assets, Ismail said his department, comprising 380 enforcement officers, can reduce illegal fishing by 20 percentage points.

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