Fisheries Department director-general Datuk Munir Mohd Nawi claimed Malaysia has been over-fished, therefore requiring preventive measures or rehabilitating programs for fish to repopulate. He cites global warming, climate change, and pollution as the contributing factors.
According to the annual reports from Department of Statistics Malaysia, the number of salt water and fresh water fish decreased from 2016 to 2017.
Data collected on fishing sectors around Malaysia indicate Perak has the highest amount of fishing establishments, followed by Johor and Sabah.
Just a month ago, Pasir Gudang was the talk of the country because of the chemical dumping at Kim Kim river. Consequently, fishes in the river did not survive the pollution. Recently, it was also reported that fishermen around Kota Tinggi area lost their primary source of income due to ammonia pollution, which caused the death of hundreds of fishes.
A fisherman quoted: “There is no stench but when you touch the soil along the river or feel the fishes and freshwater prawns, there is an oily substance on them.”
Likewise along Sungai Rui in Perak, fishermen have made complaints on dwindling catches over the years. Perak Environment Committee chairman Dr Abdul Aziz Bari said low level arsenic was found in the water samples taken from the river, citing illegal companies operating upstream as the cause.
However, Perak MB Ahmad Faizal Azumu said the state has received proposals to build a wharf factory in Segari Lumut. This could not only affect the livelihood of fishermen, but also the turtle population near the coastline.
On the other hand, there have been numerous cases of fish bombing in Sabah. To elaborate, it is an illegal practice of utilizing compound explosives to incapacitate or kill fish in the water.
Last month, a 16-year-old died from a blast while using a fish bomb. Besides being lethal and illegal, they permanently harms the underwater ecosystem, drastically reduce fish population, and damages the state tourism. On a side note, Sabah is a hotspot for diving.
Datuk Munir Mohd Nawi said there are efforts to improve enforcement against illegal fishing, especially by foreign vessels which use trawler nets, potentially destroying marine life like corals.
Nevertheless, the public must uphold the responsibility of protecting the sea and not just rely on the government to rehabilitate them.