Boost to Malaysian fishing industry

Boost to Malaysian fishing industry

Malaysian Fisheries Department director-general Datuk Ahamad Sabki Mahmood has been enthusing about his country's untapped fishing reserves. Apparently research has revealed that Malaysia possesses bountiful resources off the coasts of Sarawak and Sabah. These will allow a yield of 500,000 tonnes of fish by 2020, a harvesting that the director-general added could be easily sustained provided all those concerned stuck to the parameters of their fishing licenses.

Ahamad added that the breeding grounds for commercial fish would not be affected, avoiding the depletion that had devastated fishing stocks in other parts of the globe. Within Malaysia's coastal waters were areas which enjoyed exclusive economic zone status. This included the seas off the coast of Labuan where the stocks of tuna and other pelagic fish were flourishing after being relatively untouched for numbers of years.

Those deep-sea fishing companies who had proved to be most sensitive to the needs to maintain regularly replenished fishing stock would be granted rights to continue well-managed fishing enterprises.

This would encourage these companies to continue to make bigger investments. This commitment would be reciprocated by the Malaysian authorities who would maintain close ties with the fishing fleets when the time came to renew seasonal permits. In this way, fishing catches would be optimized, with some 12 anchor companies receiving appointment certificates at the Malaysian Fisheries Department's HQ in Wisma Tani.

According to figures collated by his department, Ahamad stated that the 2012 harvest accounted for 1.4 million tonnes of fish, valued at RM 7.9 million. Of this total, just over 325,000 tonnes were trapped by deep-sea fishing vessels.

"The landing of deep-sea fish is crucial in meeting the increasing protein demand as an alternative to fish supply from shallower waters which has been optimised."

Malaysia is currently managing a fishing fleet of 1,350 fully-licensed deep-sea vessels. This marks a massive rise in the comparable figures from the tail end of the 1980s, which still at a mere 260.

The fishing authorities selected those companies most likely to capitalize on Malaysia's bountiful resources by comparing success rates at entrapping deep sea fish. Those catching in excess of 80% could expect to be prioritized during the allocation of permits, as maintaining this level of harvesting success was not a straightforward task.