Trawler encroachment becoming more serious

CAP urges the Maritime Enforcement Agency of Malaysia – Agensi Penguatkuasaan Maritim Malaysia (APMM) to conduct more frequent operations in Penang waters particularly the South West District to control encroachment of trawler boats into inshore fishers zone in the state.

The problem of trawler encroachment is becoming more serious and affects more than 2,000 inshore fishers in ten areas comprising Sungai Pinang, Pantai Acheh, Jalan Baru, Sungai Burung, Teluk Kumbar, Sungai Batu, Gertak Sanggul, Telok Tempoyak, Permatang Damar Laut and Batu Maung.

Following the encroachments, the daily income of inshore fishers has declined from more than RM100 to RM20.  The operations of the trawler boats have not only caused the dwindling of fish and prawns that are the main catch of inshore fishers but also polluted the waters and sea-bed in Zone A at an alarming rate. Many inshore fishers also suffer major losses due to their fishing gears being destroyed after colliding with trawler boats.

The encroaching trawler boats are based in Batu Maung and Teluk Bahang and conduct their illegal activities at night.  Their fishing area is between 1 to 3 nautical miles from the shore.

CAP has received complaints from inshore fishers that besides catching big fishes, the trawlers also catch small fishes (fries) that cannot be eaten or marketed.  These fishes are considered trash fish and are used for feeding cage-cultured fishes operated by local aquaculturists.  Each trawl boat in the state lands between 5 to 7 tonnes of small fishes of various types including high quality fishes.  CAP is concerned that if this situation continues, our fisheries resources in ten years’ time will collapse.

In view of this, CAP calls on the Ministry of Agriculture and Agro-Based Industry and the Department of Fisheries to pay serious attention and take immediate steps to resolve this problem.  CAP is disappointed that although the Fisheries Act 1985 and enforcement agencies are in existence to check on the problem but no positive effects have been gained by inshore fishers in the state.

Together with inshore fisher activists in Penang, CAP plans to launch a signature campaign calling for the Ban of Trawler Nets.

Press Statement, 19 September 2012