Malaysia: Vietnamese fishermen destroying Johor’s marine ecosystem

MOHD FARHAAN SHAH The Star 7 Aug 17;

JOHOR BARU: Urgent action is needed to save the marine eco­system in eastern Johor waters from Vietnamese fishermen who are plundering the rich marine resources there, a conservationist said.

Johor Malaysian Nature Society (MNS) chairman Vincent Chow told The Star that these raiders targeted specific sea creatures such as sea cucumbers because of the huge demand in China.

“The marine life in eastern Johor waters stretching from Mersing to Desaru is diverse and rich,” he said.

“Besides sea cucumbers, turtles and even sharks can be found there and these animals depend on each other as part of the food chain. If one link is gone, it will jeopardise the whole ecosystem.”

Chow also said the pukat harimau trawler net favoured by the Viet-namese was banned in Malaysia for environmental reasons.

“These nets are lowered to the seabed and dragged by fishing boats to catch everything in their path.

“The net will destroy everything on the sea floor, including coral reefs, while scooping up all the fish and other marine life,” he added.

Chow urged the Government and the relevant authorities to look into the matter urgently.

He said the encroachers would resort to anything just to stay one step ahead of local enforcement authorities, including using faster boats.

“We may have the better law but if we do not enforce it, how will we be able to save our seas?” he added.

The Star reported on Friday that Vietnamese fishermen were frequently encroaching into Malaysian waters in search of a valuable catch in the form of sea cucumber.

The growing issue of encroachment is causing serious problems for local fishermen, who are intimidated by the bigger vessels. Their livelihoods are badly affected.

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