KOTA KINABALU: THE Sabah Fisheries Department will submit a request to the state government to temporarily halt the export of seafood ahead of the Lunar New Year celebrations.

Its director, Dr Ahemad Sade, said the move was aimed at preventing the supply of seafood from depleting and to prevent food prices from ballooning.

Ahemad was responding to claims by Kota Kinabalu Fishing Boat Owners Association chairman Simon Hong that fish catches had declined by half compared with 2015.

“It is not true that the number of fish caught had gone down. Based on our statistics, fishermen in the state caught a consistent amount of fish.

“Last year, we recorded landings of 161,424 metric tonnes, valued at RM938.3 million, compared with 159,773 metric tonnes of fish in 2016,” he said in a statement.


Dr Ahemad Sade

Ahemad added that there was still an abundant supply of seafood in Sabah, based on the department’s recent checks at local markets.

He said since 2015, the state government had restricted the use of foreign fishing vessels by local fishermen in Sabah waters.

“However, existing fishing vessels can still be used, provided they comply with regulations.

“The government has set strict conditions for the application of deep sea fishing licenses,” he added.

Deep sea fishing permits, he said, could only be issued to Malaysian citizens to catch fish in Sabah waters.

“For deep sea fishing, the area of operations should be at least 30 nautical miles from the shore and they should not use trawlers to catch fish.”

Ahemad said all vessels must drop their catch at the designated fish landing jetties provided by the government.

“Each vessel has to install a Mobile Transceiver Unit (MTU) and special marking plate for monitoring and authentication purposes.

“The department has also been working with the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency to address the issue of vessel cloning.”

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