Do Not Bow to Demands of Trawler Operators

Enforce Fisheries Act Stringently

CAP and Sahabat Alam Malaysia (SAM) urge the Ministry of Agriculture and Agro-based Industry to not bow to pressure by trawl operators and trawl fishers in the country who protest the enforcement of a ban on trawl nets with mesh sizes of 38mm and below, that was enforced from 1 November 2013. The Ministry through the Fisheries Department and the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) must enforce the Fisheries Act 1985 stringently based on the regulations set forth under the Act.

In relation to the recent protests by trawl operators and trawlers on the enforcement of the regulations, CAP and SAM hope that the relevant authorities will implement the ban effectively so that the future of the fisheries sector is not compromised and consumers get an adequate supply of fish. Our survey found that the use of trawl nets with mesh size of 38mm and below has resulted in dwindling of fishery resources in our waters. A trawler boat traps and kills more than 60% of fish (fish fries and juvenile fishes) that cannot be consumed and marketed to consumers. According to the Auditor General’s 2013 report, the Ministry’s weakness and failure of enforcing regulations on trawling is one of the causes of lack of fishery resources in the country. World Fish reported that fish supply in the waters of this country dropped between 80 to 90 percent due to the use of trawl nets.

Currently about 150 types of fish, including shrimp and turtles are threatened with extinction as a result of the operations and encroachment by trawlers in the fishing area of 1 to 5 nautical miles from the coast. As a result, the income of some 50,000 fishermen in the country is affected due to lack of catch. This problem has become more serious because some trawl operators have modified their trawl nets to crocodile nets (pukat buaya) which are more harmful and threaten fisheries. We are of the opinion that Malaysia should ban the use of trawl nets as imposed in Hong Kong, Venezuela, Palau, Belize, Japan and Indonesia in order to sustain our fishery resources in the future

In addition to trawl nets, we urge the concerned Ministry to investigate the use of anchovy nets, seine nets (pukat rawa sorong) and Apollo nets.  We have received reports from coastal fishers in Kedah, Perlis and Perak that the use of these gears also threatens fishery resources in the coastal areas (Zone A).

Press Release, 11 November 2013