Kota Kinabalu: The State Fisheries Department has been instructed to act immediately to ensure that fishermen operating in the Eastern Sabah Security Zone (Esszone) install the Automatic Identification System (AIS) for detection.
Agriculture and Food Industry Minister Datuk Seri Yahya Hussin (pic) said Tuesday that the call by the police must be complied with as it concerns the security of the State and safety of fishermen.
"I hope the department can speed this up and ensure all the fishing boats are installed with the device," he said during his ministry's Hari Raya Aidil Fitri celebration at Wisma Pertanian.
He said having the AIS installed in fishing and tugboats would help the security forces take proactive measures in dealing with criminal elements, especially kidnapping.
The AIS is an automatic tracking system used on ships and by vessel traffic services (VTS) for identifying and locating vessels by electronically exchanging data with other nearby ships, AIS base stations and satellites.
Sabah Police Commissioner Datuk Abdul Rashid Harun had issued a reminder on Monday to all tugboats and fishing boats operating in Esszone to install the device.
He had explained that the AIS would enable the authorities to monitor their movement and come to their assistance in the event of trouble.
But he disclosed that many have yet to comply since he first issued the call because they did not want their activities to be known by the authorities such as encroaching into international waters and other personal reasons.
Abdul Rashid gave the boat owners two weeks to do so although he did not say what action would be taken for non-compliance.
On the short deadline, Yahya said the State police perhaps could consider allowing the boat operators some more time.
The Minister also said the Fisheries Department has data on the number of licensed and unlicensed fishing and tugboats in the State.