Sahabat Alam Malaysia (SAM) urges the Maritime Enforcement Agency of Malaysia (APMM) and the Fisheries Department of Kedah to take urgent and effective action to resolve the problem of trawling boats encroachment and the activities of clam vessels in the waters off Kuala Muda and Kuala Kedah.
SAM’s survey here found that the income of around 1,000 coastal fishers in both the areas has been badly affected because marine resources particularly fish and prawns that are their main catch have declined. Previously when the fishers were not faced with these problems they were able to earn an income of more than RM1,000.00 a month, but now they manage to get about RM600.00 per month.
The trawling boats and clam vessels operating in these waters are based in Kuala Kedah and Tanjong Dawai in the state of Kedah and Batu Maung in Penang and Pantai Remis in Perak. These boats often operate at night and the trawlers encroach into coastal fishing zones at least 3 nautical miles from the shore.
Apart from trapping and causing death of juvenile fish and fries, the coastal area and sea bed is also polluted, thus threatening fisheries resources in the waters. One trawler boat can trap and kill more than 60% of fish fries besides damaging the coastal fishers fishing gears when hit by the trawlers.
SAM is disappointed that although this has been a long standing problem and over the years many complaints have been made by the fishers to APMM and the Fisheries Department but until now the actions that were taken have not been effective to eradicate the problem. If this situation continues, not only the income of coastal fishers will be worse affected in the future but it will also adversely affect the local supply of fishes to consumers here.
Hence SAM requests that the APMM and Fisheries Department will do more frequent patrolling in Zone A (1 to 8 nautical miles from the shore) including at night to effectively eradicate the problem of encroaching trawling boats and curb the destructive activities of the clam vessels. The Fisheries Act 1985 must be enforced stringently and illegal fishing gears must be confiscated and destroyed.