Exclusive report by Nur Faradilla Mohamad
MERSING, Oct 23 -- "Do not jeopardise our livelihood” cried fishermen who are still going to sea to find a living despite various challenges.
This is the groan often heard among fishermen against a handful of their peers who are taking quick profits by renting their license to foreigners.
Saafie Hussin or better known as Pok Teh Awi, regretted the attitude of some boat owners who took the easy way out to reap handsome returns.
The 65-year-old skipper from Kampung Mersing Kanan here who came from Besut, Terengganu, said the sea has been his source of livelihood for more than 40 years in the village, he called his second home.
"Do not threaten our rice bowl especially fishermen who are out to take quick profits by abusing their license, please take pity on those who are genuinely going to sea for a living,"” he told Bernama in an interview here.
Pok Teh Awi, who has three class B boats with 12 local workers however is confident that the enforcement agency is committed to combat the issue.
Another fishermen, Mahmud Hamzah, 58, from Setiu, Terengganu said he hoped those involved in abusing their license would face the appropriate action.
“Let us be honest in finding a living...we sometimes return only once a month to find the resources to support our families.
“As such avoid using the wrong channel to get rich...work harder,” said Mahmud who has just moved over to Mersing six months ago.
Meanwhile, the Johor Fisheries Department said it would not compromise with boat owners who abuse their license by renting their boats to foreigners to fish in the state waters.
When asked on the issue, its director Zamani Omar said the department took a serious view on the matter and threatened to suspend or cancel the licences of such boat owners if they were found guilty.
He said based on information received, these fishermen chose to carry out such activities for quick profits as there was no cost involved by the license holder.
"We have conducted various initiatives to curb such activities including carrying out annual vessel inspection to verify whether the boat is real or cloned.
“Apart from that, we are always cooperating with other enforcement agencies including the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency and Marine Police to eradicate illegal fishing activities in the state,” he told Bernama recently.
So far there were no reports received by the department on such cases.
In this regard, Zamani said the department encouraged fishermen to employ local crew to combat the intrusion of foreign fishermen in state waters.
“However, not many locals are interested as they have to be away at the sea for a long time,” he said.
On Oct 10, the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency detained a local fishing boat operated by a Vietnamese skipper and crew in the waters of Pulau Tokong Burung in Kuala Rompin in Pahang.