Daily Express : Saturday, 5th March 2011
Fishermen who use "pump boats" may see these vessels being seized by the national Maritime Agency, accoroding to the commanding officer for its Sandakan office, captain Mohd Onn bin Khalil.
He said fishermen are prohibited from using such boats and owner of such vessels could be charged in court. Mohd Onn urged fishermen to cooperate with checks conducted by Maritime personnel to ensure they have necessary documents. " They should also ensure their boats are equipped with sufficient life jackets for themselves and everyone on board.
" Based on a directive issued by Malaysia Maritime Director, the agency can only issue warnings up to three times, which will be based on result of investigation. If the fishermen have valid and concrete reasons, and not caused by negligence of the agency, we will release them." he said.
He said the Maritime agency would step up their surveillance at the mouth of the Mumiang River, following reports about presence of trawlers belonging to foreign fishermen in the area. He said some 2,500 boat licences had been issued to fishermen who are operating in the waters off Sandakan. " However many of these licence holders do not use their boats for their livelihood".
Mohd Onn was speaking during a dialogue between the Sandakan branch of the National Maritime Agency, representatives from the fishing community in the district and Village Chiefs, as well as the respective Security and Development Commitee chairmen.
Sukau Assemblyman Datuk Saddi Hj Abdul Rahman, who chaired the dialogue, said the event provided members of the fishing community with the opportunity to express the hardships they faced in trying to earn a living.
" Many among this group are traditional fisher men who only have small boats which they use to help their families get by and these families are residing on coastal area of Sukau involving 15 vilages," he said, adding more 3,000 fishermen in his constituency are administered by Sndakan Municipal Concil.
Saddi also urged the Maritime Agency not to come down too severely on these fishermen, as long as the latter did not compromise public safety and contravene the national seafaring regulations.
He also called on fishermen to cooperate with the authority's staff at all times as these personnel were anly carrying out their daily responsibilities.