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Deep sea fishing permits move queried
Published on: Friday, January 12, 2018

Kota Kinabalu: A letter purportedly signed by Deputy Chief Minister cum Agriculture and Food Industry Minister Datuk Seri Yahya Hussin supporting a company's application for 10 additional deep-sea fishing permits has raised questions from opposition Parti Warisan Sabah.

"Important issue here is that we have always been talking about illegal fishing involving a lot of Vietnam boats, a lot of times the argument was that they (State Government) are unable to do anything about Vietnam boats because they have liences," said Parti Warisan Sabah Vice President Junz Wong.

He said the licence would normally be for deep-sea fishing because local licence is only for local boats.

"We have been calling to stop giving out deep-sea licences…Vietnam boats and illegal fishing issues have been on-going for a long time and one of the major cause of illegal fishing is because issuance of deep-sea licence is controlled and approved by Kuala Lumpur.

"I have proposed to actually do away with either deep-sea license or do away with foreign vessels, we are unable to resolve illegal fishing because we have no control over deep-sea licence.

"If the State Government have control they would have been able to avoid this issue.

"I think in Sabah, in order to stop all this, the best way is to stop any foreign vessel from fishing in our waters and allow only local fishing boats," he said.

"The capital payout of this company is only RM100,000, it is thus safe to say that this company has no boat because to acquire a deep-sea licence boat is not cheap, a deep-sea boat could easily cost RM1million or perhaps slightly less. The business nature of the company is construction and civil works, general trading and agricultural related business, when the company was first incorporated their main business is definitely not to do fishing.

"Thus, we want to know what is this company going to do with the ten deep-sea permits, are they going to rent it out, buy boats or what," he said.

"I cannot see the rationale, despite the happenings in our waters, despite not being able to do anything about it, this is being done again. I want Yahya to come clean and to clarify if this letter is true and if yes, what is the rationale behind it," he said.

The presence of foreign fishing vessels and illegal fishing activities in Sabah waters have been an on-going issue for years.

It has also prompted Kota Kinabalu Fishing Boat Owners Association last year to support the call by Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Zahid Hamidi in Kuching to bar all foreign fishing vessels from Sarawak's waters.

The association also hoped such measure should be applied to Sabah as well.

It was reported last year that in the past, Sabah Deputy Chief Minister-cum-Agriculture and Fisheries Minister Datuk Seri Yahya Hussin had denied a claim by the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) for not acting against Vietnamese boats encroaching on Sabah waters because there was a MoU signed by Sabah and a Vietnam company.

Last year, the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) begun casting its net on illegal fishing activity off Sabah waters by foreign vessels. This followed the remand of three Malaysia Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) personnel by the MACC for alleged corrupt practices involving encroachment by foreign fishermen into Malaysian waters. - Sherell Jeffrey

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