KOTA KINABALU: The Sabah Fisheries Department is optimistic that the state’s fisheries resources will be adequate for local consumption and export due to its growing population, said its director, Dr Ahemad Sade.
He said the department’s main objective was to identify the best practices for fisheries management to ensure that future generations of Malaysians would be able to enjoy protein sources from fish.
“Our second objective is (boosting) the economy by exporting fish,” he said, adding that the gross value of fisheries in the state was RM1.8 billion per year and was expected to increase to RM2 billion by 2020.
Ahemad said individual fish protein consumption was expected to grow from 45kg per year in 2015 to 55kg in 2020.
Currently, the balance of trade for fisheries products remain positive with the export volume exceeding import.
Among the strategies the department uses to manage fish resources at the nation’s seas and rivers, include enforcement and conservation efforts.
Under the Fisheries Act 1985, the department will look into licensing and enforcement to tackle issues, such as fishing vessel ownership and fish landings, fish bombings and poisoning.
While for rivers, under the Sabah Inland Fisheries and Aquaculture Enactment 2003, it is the department’s jurisdiction to prevent people from using destructive methods to catch fish.
The department is implementing tagal, which is a traditional method of preventing people from catching fish at certain sea or river areas, to rehabilitate the fish population.
There are more than 500 rivers in Sabah that have been gazetted as tagal areas.
Other conservation methods, include building artificial reefs, releasing more fish into rivers and sea areas, as well as implementing ecosystem-based fisheries management.
“Research and development initiatives have helped to increase aquaculture and seafood.
“For example, 80 per cent of farmed white shrimps are exported to Japan, Korea, China and Europe.”
Despite there being ample supply of seafood, the affordability of the resource has dropped due to high consumer demand, especially among Chinese tourists.