Sarawak stops issuing deepsea fishing licences to local fishermen

A fisherman (C-in red) stands on the deck of a fishing boat docked at the Kota Kinabalu central fish market in the Malaysian Borneo state of Sabah on June 14, 2015.

TANJUNG MANIS - The Sarawak government will stop issuing deepsea licences to local fishermen in a move to curb the problem of illegal trawler fishing by foreign fishermen.

The move is also aimed at stopping these fishermen from draining the state's marine resources worth millions of ringgit a year.

Chief Minister Tan Sri Adenan Satem said only those who owned fish-processing factories could apply for the licence.

"Deepsea fishing licences will no longer be issued. Those who want to apply for a licence must have a fish-processing factory either in Tanjung Manis or Miri," he said at the groundbreaking ceremony of Tanjung Manis Bulkers Sdn Bhd oil palm estate's new storage facilities yesterday.

In addition, the applicants must also provide proof that the catch was for local consumption, he said.

"Do not try to fool us just because you have a factory. You might sell 90 per cent of the catch abroad and leave 10 per cent for the locals," he warned.

Adenan said he had told Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak about the move to put an end to illegal fishing in the state's waters.

Following that, the Prime Minister instructed the Agriculture and Agro-Based Industry Ministry to take action against 30 deepsea fishing licence holders who had illegally leased their papers to foreign operators.

"These 30 operators will have to answer to our show cause letter as to why their licences should not be revoked," said Adenan.

The state government, he said, had had enough of illegal trawlers which stole fish from the Sarawak waters.

Their activities not only affected the livelihood of local fishermen but also posed a danger to the marine life, he added.

The Belawai Area Fishermen Association and the Sarawak Fishing Vessels Association have for years been calling on the state go­­vernment to stop illegal fishing trawlers from China, Vietnam, the Philippines and Thailand from encroaching on state waters.

On a separate matter, Adenan said the handicapped and the very poor in the state would soon receive an increase in welfare aid to offset the rising cost of living.

A motion on that will be tabled in the State Legislative Assembly meeting in October.