By Jaythaleela K
MIRI, Fen 26: Members of the Sarawak Fishing Vessel Association (SFVA) are calling for the State government to enforce better coordination between the fishing community and conservation authorities when establishing marine protected areas for conservation purposes.
According to SFVA secretary Harry Tan Joo Seng on Saturday during a press conference held in Miri, engagement with the fishing community is crucial to avoid confusion over boundaries of marine reserve areas.
“This to end and avoid conflicts between the conservation authorities such as Sarawak Forestry Corporation (SFC) with the local fishing community,” he stressed.
“It seems that we were left in the dark and sidelined by the relevant authorities and the State government over the issues,” he asserted.
On Jan 13 this year, a local fishing boat and five of its crew members were detained by the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement (MMEA) near the Miri-Sibuti Coral Reef National Park for allegedly encroaching into marine reserve area.
Tan has claimed that SFC has not informed them on the boundaries and areas where they are not supposed to carry out their fishing activities.
“We want a win-win situation to resolve this issues,” he said.
Following the arrest, the vessel’s owner incurred losses of more than RM90,000.
“In this case, there was some confusion between SFC and the fishermen over the boundaries of the Miri-Sibuti Coral Reef National Park, under the Fisheries Act of 1985, the vessel operated in permitted areas,” Tan explained.
He said the arrests proceeded despite the legal permission stated in the Fisheries Act 1985.
The SFVA on Jan 17 had then met up with SFC and Minister of Transport Sarawak Datuk Sri Lee Kim Shin to resolve the issue.
“However, we have yet to receive any update or outcome pertaining to the discussions,” Tan explained.
He disclosed that the association had planned to stage a peaceful protest in front of SFC’s Miri office over the claimed unlawful arrest on Feb 16.
However, the application to stage the protest was denied by the authorities.
Spanning a whopping 186,930 hectares in the South China Sea, the Miri-Sibuti Coral Reefs National Park is the largest offshore national park in the State. — DayakDaily