Abdul Karim calls for regulation of licensing and safety features for leisure fishing boats

The location of the boat carrying five anglers which was reported missing on Oct 3, 2021.

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by Nancy Nais

KUCHING, Oct 5: Tourism, Arts, Culture, Youth and Sports Minister Datuk Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah hopes that the government will regulate licensing and specific equipment in boats for deep sea fishing enthusiasts going out to sea.

He asserts that while fishing is fun, boat owners and anglers whether they are experienced or amateurs must always use their common sense when it comes to safety.

“These boats must be licensed and well equipped with radio, GPS, eco sounder, locator beacons, life jackets, buoys and other necessary equipment. Those who bring people for leisure fishing in sea, including boat owners must be fully trained and know the area that they are going. You cannot take people to sea when you do not know the area and are unaware of weather conditions.

“I hope the government can regulate this in the future. We cannot continue having cases of missing fishing boats and human lives. We do not want visitors from other places outside Sarawak to experience similar disasters like what is happening now,” Abdul Karim said at a press conference during his visit to the search and rescue (SAR) control post at the Telaga Air public jetty tonight.

Commenting on two recent cases where one fishing boat capsized on Oct 2 and another went missing on Oct 3, Abdul Karim also told anglers to look into the safety features of a boat before renting them.

While experienced anglers may know what to do and when is the right time to go fishing, he said amateurs might not. Thusm he advised them to check the boat’s capacity, equipment and safety features before they rent.

“If the boat does not have these, then don’t go or follow. If you still insist on fishing, then go fish at the river instead. Please think of your own safety. Sea fishing is very different compared to river fishing as the weather can change anytime and very fast,” Abdul Karim advised.

On Oct 2, eight fishermen, a skipper and a crew member were reported missing after their fishing vessel capsized about two nautical miles off Pulau Satang Besar, Telaga Air. Nine of them were rescued alive while one is still missing.

On Oct 3, a second boat with five anglers was reported to have gone missing somewhere between Karang Berumput/Tukun Bass up to Tanjung Datu waters. None of them have been found.

Thanking all the relevant enforcement agencies such as Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA), Fire and Rescue Department (Bomba), Sarawak Coast Guard (SCG) and Civil Defense Force (APM), Abdul Karim noted that despite all the efforts and various assets including two helicopters deployed in the SAR operations, so far only nine out of 15 victims have been found.

“It will be a miracle to find them alive because today is already the fourth day of them missing in the sea. Chances of survival is slim. However, the SAR team will not give up.

“As we are aware, the first 24 hours is the most crucial time to look for them. After that, it might be difficult because we are talking about deep sea. The victims are tired, hungry and there is no clean water,” he said.

Meanwhile, Abdul Karim disclosed that the sole missing victim from Oct 2 incident identified as Awang Omar Awang Hasmawi, 56, is his cousin.

“My cousin is an avid angler. Today is the fourth day he has gone missing. It is our hope that all the victims can be found. I have accepted this as fate. If he is found alive, we are grateful. If he is dead, we (including his family) will also accepted it,” Abdul Karim said. — DayakDaily