Sarawak to vet, recommend application of deep sea fishing licences in state waters

Abang Johari (second right) savouring a cup of local coffee at Sarawak Agrofest 2019.

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By Lian Cheng

KUCHING, Nov 22: The Sarawak government has been empowered to recommend applications for deep sea fishing licences by Putrajaya.

Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg made the announcement at a media conference after launching Sarawak Agrofest 2019 here today.

He said in his last meeting with Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, Sarawak and Sabah were told to set up big companies to tap the marine fishing resources in the South China Sea.

“What happened during the meeting is that the prime minister’s rational is this – the fish resources are a lot in South China Sea, in our waters, as compare to the Straits of Malacca.”

According to Abang Johari, as Dr Mahathir expressed hope of having big companies involving in deep sea fishing, the power to vet the applications of deep sea licences was thus given to Sarawak government.

“Sabah and Sarawak have the resources. So our side is, we can vet the applications and recommend for the licences.

“The issuance authority of the licences is still KL (Kuala Lumpur) but then what is recommended by the state, they will more or less say yes,” said Abang Johari, adding that the state Modernisation of Agriculture Ministry has been tasked to vet through all applications.

On the long-standing issue of fishing licence holders renting out their licences to foreign fishing trawlers who fish indiscriminately and selling their best catch to the foreign buyers at international waters to deprive Malaysians of quality marine resources, Abang Johari said the new arrangement of having Sarawak and Sabah vetting through fishing licence applications was one of the solutions.

“Apparently, that was why he (Dr Mahathir) is empowering us,” said Abang Johari.

Meanwhile, due to the encouragement given by Dr Mahathir, Abang Johari said “Sarawak must build our own big companies to catch fish in South China Sea”.

He said presently, there are only two big fishing companies in Sarawak and the rest are mainly fishermen with small fishing vessels. — DayakDaily