The views and feedback from other enforcement agencies and departments must be taken into account before a decision is made on the use of pump boat in the state. -- NSTP/MARITIME MALAYSIA

KOTA KINABALU: The views and feedback from other enforcement agencies and departments must be taken into account before a decision is made on the use of pump boat in the state.

Sabah police commissioner Datuk Omar Mammah said the state police would not take a unilateral stance on the matter and would discuss with other enforcement agencies to come up with an agreement collectively.

"We are still studying to determine whether the use of pump boats is totally banned or could be allowed with certain conditions. We have to understand that pump boat is a very economical means of transport for local fishermen.

"For police, we don't want to take a unilateral stance. We have to discuss with other maritime enforcement agencies, the Agriculture and Food Ministry, and the Fisheries Department, among others," he said..

He was speaking after the opening of 3rd Bilateral Meeting between Malaysian and Philippine marine police here today. Present was Philippine National Police Maritime Group Brigadier General Rwin SA Pagkalinawan.

Omar said a thorough study on the matter was required in order to avoid indecisiveness and hoped to submit a proposal to Chief Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie Apdal soon.

In September the police commissioner said the use of pump boats would be reconsidered following the kidnapping of three Indonesian fishermen in Lahad Datu and Omar had said Shafie had asked the police to conduct a study on the feasibility of using pump boats.

The use of pump boats was banned by the Barisan Nasional state government in April 2016 following series of kidnapping and to enhance security in the Eastern Sabah Security Zone.

In May last year, Shafie announced the state government was looking into lifting the ban, especially in the east coast, to help local fishermen who depended on pump boats.

On the bilateral meeting, Omar said combating illegal fishing would be among the issues to be discussed between Malaysian and Philippine maritime police.

Describing fishing poachers as a new threat, he said both parties hoped to come up with effective solution and proposal to be brought up to their respective leaders in the effort to effectively enforce law against illegal fishing encroachment in Malaysia-Philippine border.

"This is an indication that both countries are committed in safeguarding the security of our shared borders. The maritime borders are huge, and we cannot deploy all our men as well as assets to every inch of the area. This cooperation is very important.

"There are some blind spots which we cannot cover, and our Philippine counterpart can help us in patrolling the area. I believe we'll be able to come up with good solution to strengthen cooperation, so our presence in the area will be more effective," said Omar.

Meanwhile, Pagkalinawan said the Malaysian and Philippine police force should unite in fighting to stop illegal, unregulated, and unreported fishing at the maritime borders of both nations.

"It will be much easier for Malaysia and Philippine to cooperate in that matter, if we have the same frequency pertaining to communication, capability and infrastructure like faster boats.

"I believe with more cooperation and communication between our line units in the field, more illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing would be controlled effectively," he said.

Pagkalinawan also stressed on the vital need for both forces to have good sharing information attitude with regards to radar detection of illegal fishers in respective areas, adding interaction between the forces should be made easier.