CAP & SAM censure blueprint for sustainable coastal trawl fisheries

CAP and Sahabat Alam Malaysia (SAM) are deeply troubled by the intentions of the Department of Fisheries (DOF) Malaysia and WWF-Malaysia to come up with a blueprint for sustainable coastal trawl fisheries in Malaysia.

The DOF in collaboration with WWF-Malaysia is organising a two day workshop on adaptation of a blueprint for sustainable coastal trawl fisheries in Malaysia on 6 and 7 March. We strongly oppose this initiative because from our experience and through working with coastal fishers we find that trawl fisheries cannot be sustainable whether in the coastal zone or deep-sea.  In fact coastal fishers have been demanding a total ban on trawl fishing as it is an ecologically destructive fishing method.

The drafting of a blueprint on coastal trawl fisheries and its subsequent implementation would grossly undermine our fish stocks. As it is, the fish catch rate and the quality of catch in Malaysian waters have declined dramatically over the past few decades. Marine fish stocks have dropped among others due to over-fishing, use of destructive gears, environmental pollution, habitat destruction, and compounded by indiscriminate encroachment of trawlers into coastal fishing zones.

Studies forecast that world fish stocks will collapse by 2048 if the trend of declining stocks continues.  We believe that Malaysian fisheries will collapse even earlier if trawl fishing is allowed and our authorities are being influenced by the vested interest of the industry.

We take a strong stance against trawling. The Malaysian government should emulate Indonesia, Palau and Belize that have banned trawling and Hong Kong which announced its ban in May 2011. Several countries such as Australia, Brazil, Canada, China and including Malaysia have established no-trawl zones.  It is then troubling to learn that both DOF and WWF Malaysia is trying to legitimise this environmentally and socially damaging form of fishing by formulating this blueprint.

We demand that the Department of Fisheries Malaysia and WWF-Malaysia halt this initiative of drawing up a blueprint for sustainable coastal trawl fisheries.  Instead the Malaysian government should start drawing up a masterplan to ban trawling altogether to ensure a healthy future for our fisheries sector.

Press Release, 6  March 2012