Sahabat Alam Malaysia (SAM) and the Consumers Association of Penang (CAP) urge the Perak Fisheries Department to ban the use of spotlight by purse seine fishermen in Pulau Pangkor because it threatens fish fries in the waters off the island.
It is regretful that until now no action has been taken by the authorities although this is a long-standing problem and had jeopardized the livelihood of 1,000 fishermen on the island.
Our survey found that more than 100 boats, including purse seiners from Kedah based in Pulau Pangkor use high voltage spot light when running their operations at night between 7.00 pm and 5.00 am. The spot lights can emit light deep into the sea bed.
The device is installed on the boat and in the water to attract and trap various types of fish. However a large part of the catch is small-sized juvenile fish. Juvenile fish that are mostly trapped using the spot light is yellow-banded scad (selar kuning), croaker (gelama), hardtail scad (cencaru) and round scad (selayang). The fish fries and juvenile fishes are considered trash fish because it cannot be sold in the market and thus sold to the aquaculture industry to be used as feed.
SAM and CAP are concerned over this situation because if left unchecked it can lead to extinction of fishery resources in the waters off Pulau Pangkor and hence threaten the livelihood of fishermen in the area in addition to jeopardizing the fisheries sector.
Therefore we urge the Department of Fisheries to ban the use of spotlights not only in the state but also across the country to ensure our source of protein is protected and there is adequate fish supply in the future.
SAM and CAP also call on the Department of Fisheries of Perak and Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) to conduct more patrols and strictly enforce the Fisheries Act 1985 to effectively control the encroachment of local trawlers. The encroachments often occur at night in the zones designated for coastal fishing in Pulau Pangkor.
Complaints pertaining to the use of spotlights and encroachment of trawlers in Pulau Pangkor have been lodged to the relevant authorities numerous times but both the problems still persist today and have become more serious.
S.M MOHAMED IDRIS
SAM & CAP