Defence Ministry urged to use new technologies to check intrusion by fishing boats

KUCHING, Stampin Member of Parliament Chong Chieng Jen has urged the Defence Ministry to implement long-term measures, including incorporating new technologies, in carrying out enforcement against intrusion by illegal fishing boats that has affected the local fishing industry, especially in Sarawak waters.

Chong, who is also Deputy Minister for Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs, said this should include advanced surveillance technology that employs innovative, integrated and actionable intelligence across all departments and agencies to create a Maritime Domain Awareness to better monitor the maritime borders.

This is important as many of these illegal trawlers and fishing boats are getting more high tech in order to avoid detection as well.

We will continue to follow up on this issue and hope that a long-term solution can be sorted out amicably between the Malaysian authorities and even the neighbouring countries on the matter, he said in a statement here today.

Chong said these were among the proposals made when he, together with Bandar Kuching MP Dr Kelvin Yii and Pending assemblyman Violet Yong, met Defence Minister Mohamad Sabu and Royal Malaysian Navy Chief, Admiral Datuk Mohd Reza Mohd Sany.

The meeting was a follow-up on their efforts to raise the concerns and even security risks faced by the people in Sarawak, especially local fishermen, who had been affected by the increasing intrusion of illegal fishing boats into Sarawak waters.

The Minister of Defence has given a positive response and also will bring it up in Cabinet to extend the operations of the multi-agency task force, spearheaded by the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) under ‘Ops Naga’ as well as intensify it to give greater assurance to our local fisherman, he said.

Chong said it was estimated that the country lost up to RM7 billion worth of fish and maritime resources annually due to foreign fishing vessels trespassing into Malaysian waters and using illegal methods to fish and deplete the resources

Since Ops Naga was started on May 2, 2019 to catch these illegal fishing boats, he said, up to 80 boats had been seized and their crews arrested and would be charged under Section 15(1)(a) of the Fisheries Act 1985 for trespassing and illegal fishing.

The defence minister was also committed to discussing the issue with ministers from neighbouring countries at the General Border Committee (GBC) meeting in October to resolve certain issues such as disputed maritime boundaries and deployment of military joint patrols, he added.

Source: BERNAMA (News Agency)