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Terengganu Fisheries Department director Zawawi Ali (centre, in white shirt) releasing a packet of baby lobsters into the open river at Dataran Pengkalan Penambang in Beladau Kepong, Kuala Terengganu. Pix by Adrian David.
Terengganu Fisheries Department director Zawawi Ali (centre, in white shirt) releasing a packet of baby lobsters into the open river at Dataran Pengkalan Penambang in Beladau Kepong, Kuala Terengganu. Pix by Adrian David.

KUALA TERENGGANU: With the impending monsoon floods, caged fish breeders along Terengganu’s main rivers have been advised to harvest their catch promptly to avoid losses.

Terengganu Fisheries Department director Zawawi Ali made the recommendation for the 236 registered fishermen and breeders who ply their trade along rivers such as Sungai Terengganu, to take the pro-active measure.

Caged fish breeding along rivers has been popular for many years and supplements fishermen’s income, accounting for tens of thousands of ringgit in catch per cage.

“But with strong currents and (rising river levels during the monsoon season), the cages become damaged, allowing fish to escape, resulting in losses for fishermen and breeders.

“For instance, during the last monsoon season, some of the breeders suffered losses of up to RM20,000 for each cage,” Zawawi said after releasing 5,800 lobster hatchlings into the open river at Dataran Pengkalan Penambang in Beladau Kepong.

He said thunderstorms also cause riverbank trees or their branches to fall onto the cages, damaging them further.

“Our department is assisting the breeders by providing suitable equipment, including ropes, netting and boats, to secure their cages,” said Zawawi.

He advised the cage owners to have a system of breeding fish fry soon after the monsoon season in March, so that they can harvest the grown catch before the following monsoon begins.

On the release of the lobster hatchlings, Zawawi said the effort is meant to replenish the dwindling lobster population in the open rivers and estuaries.

The department has released 1.8 million lobster hatchlings into the state’s seven rivers since 2011.

“The releases are to enable the lobster hatchlings to mature over several months, and periodically provide fishermen with alternate sources of income.

“The mature lobsters are usually caught in traps or fishing rods,” he added.

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