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Scuba divers diving in Semporna.NSTP/courtesy of Abdul Razak Ismail

SEMPORNA: Sabah’s diving fraternity has called upon the authorities to tackle fish bombing activities in the state’s waters in a resolute manner.

Malaysia diving ambassador Clement Lee said all quarters, especially state authorities, need to treat fish bombing as a serious issue as it is harmful to both marine life and humans alike.

"We should not wait until a tragedy occurs, and then start to talk about it. We must not leave it to the very last minute (to tackle the matter)," he said.

Lee, who is among the two Professional Association Diving Instructors (PADI) directors in the country, said fish bombing activities were rampant in Sabah’s waters.

He said divers could hear explosions underwater while they were in the waters at Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park off here, Mantani Island off Kota Belud, Kudat, and Semporna.

"If the explosion can damage internal organs of a fish, imagine what it can do to humans.

"We need to talk about fish bombing because it is an issue. Authorities should not be slow in taking action (against fish bombing culprits).

"Enforcement needs to be put in place to eradicate such activities completely and the people from the 'kampung' , divers as well as boatmen must become the eyes and ears of authorities," said Lee.

He said the death of three divers in Semporna last Friday, including two Chinese nationals, believed to be caused by a fish bomb explosion, should serve as lesson for all quarters to take this issue seriously.

Semporna Professional Divers Association chairman Abdul Razak Ismail said the time had come for authorities to establish a squad of marine rangers to combat fish bombing particularly in Semporna.

“Semporna tourism is progressing well and there are tourists every day. They come here to dive and snorkel.

“Perhaps local professional divers can be absorbed as marine rangers to help monitor illegal activities that could jeopardise safety of tourists and visitors who are involved in sea activities,” he said, adding that the marine rangers could also act as guardians of the reef.

Razak also pointed out the need to have detailed guidelines and proper training for local professional divers so that they could carry out their job accordingly and assist the authorities.

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