The Consumers Association of Penang (CAP) urges the Department of Fisheries and the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) to seize rawa sorong nets in Kedah and Perlis in the interest of more than 2,000 fishermen in the two states whose livelihood have been affected by the use of this destructive fishing gear.
Such stringent actions can be done not only at sea when a boat operates the rawa sorong net, but also on land where the boats and nets are docked at their respective bases.
CAP regrets that although this problem has been going on for more than 30 years, but until now action taken by the relevant authorities has not been effective in resolving the problem.
Currently almost 200 rawa sorong boats are based in 16 areas, three in Perlis and 13 in Kedah. Kuala Sanglang and Yan are the most seriously threatened areas.
Under the Fisheries Act 1985, the rawa sorong net is banned because it traps or kills fish fry, juvenile fish and shrimp fries, besides polluting the sea and threatening the country’s fisheries resources. Those who violate the act can be fined RM20,000 or two years imprisonment or both.
CAP’s survey in Kedah and Perlis found that the boats using rawa sorong nets usually operate at night beginning at 7.00 pm till the next day. This illegal activity is conducted at a distance between 10 metres to 2 nautical miles from the shore.
The affected coastal fishers have complained to CAP that the stock of fish and prawns in Zone A has declined following the increasingly active operations of the rawa sorong boats. Their daily income has dropped from RM100 to RM40.
This problem has been raised numerous times but the situation remains unchanged and the source of income of coastal fishers in the state continues to deteriorate over time.
CAP is concerned with this situation because if not addressed immediately will threaten fisheries resources and risk extinction. Coastal fishers affected by the problem will also lose their livelihoods thus undermining the future of their family and the nation’s fisheries sector.
Press Statement, 27 August 2014