Malaysia: Issuance of trawler vessel licenses to be abolished

NURADZIMMAH DAIM New Straits Times 30 Dec 16;

LUMUT: Due to rising concerns over the use of trawler nets which have adverse effects on marine ecosystems, the issuance of licenses for trawler vessels will be abolished in stages, said Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) director-general Admiral Datuk Seri Ahmad Puzi Ab Kahar.

He said currently, there are a total of 550 licensed trawlers that are allowed to operate only in Tanjung Piandang, Kuala Kurau, near here.

"However, there are concerns that these trawlers are causing damage to the marine ecosystem and affecting the haul of traditional fishermen.

"We have received complaints from local fishermen who say their incomes have been greatly affected, as the trawler nets pulled by the boats collect everything from fry to corals.

"There is a need to review the Fisheries Act 1985, and we recently held a meeting with the Fisheries Department on the matter," he said at a press conference at the MMEA office here. On the MMEA's latest operation against trawlers encroaching into restricted zones, which ran from Dec 21 to yesterday, Ahmad said a total of eight vessels were intercepted.

"They were caught in the act while fishing less than five nautical miles (from the shore) at night.

They were spotted by our men who were in a helicopter. "Trawlers are only allowed to fish within the 100 nautical square miles (located more than five nautical miles) from the beach in Tanjung Piandang during the day," he said, adding that more than 300kg of fish were found on board the eight boats.

Ahmad said between 2006 and last year, a total of 177 trawlers were intercepted for encroaching into shallow waters, while a total of 11 trawlers were intercepted this year.

He said so far, vessels worth RM300 million, which were seized during enforcement operations, were auctioned off.

"As part of search-and-rescue missions, we managed to recover properties worth RM580 million and rescued some 4,700 people (since the establishment of the MMEA in 2006)," Ahmad added.