By Avila Geraldine - May 25, 2018 @ 12:30pm
KOTA KINABALU: More powers are being sought for the Fisheries Department to act against illegal fishing activities and to better protect marine life in Sabah.
State Agriculture and Food Industry Minister Junz Wong said the department, as the fisheries authority in the Sabah, should have more powers to act against illegal activities.
"The Fisheries Department is well versed on the situation and should be given more power to take action.
"This is one of the areas we will look into," Wong said, adding that he is due to attend a briefing with the department today.
On illegal fishing off the shores of Sabah, Wong said he will insist on continuous efforts to tackle fish-bombing and encroachment by foreign fishing vessels.
"We will address the issue further to protect our marine life and to protect resources for our industry in the long run," he said.
Wong said this in response to concerns raised by recreational divers about fish being caught within designated marine parks; and the alleged discovery of fishing nets destroying corals and other marine life.
He also assured the public that he will look into the need for stronger protection of shark and ray species under the Sabah Fisheries Act 1985.
Last year, the state Fisheries Department proposed that four shark and two ray species, which have been listed under the Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species (Cites) 2008, be categorised as “threatened” under the Fisheries Act 1985.
The sharks are Sphyrna mokarran (great hammerhead shark), Sphyrna zygaena (smooth hammerhead shark), Eusphyra blochii (winghead shark) and Carcharhinus longimanus (oceanic whitetip shark); while the rays are Manta birostris (oceanic manta) and Manta alfredi (reef manta).
Currently, only whale sharks and sawfish are listed as “threatened” under the Fisheries (Control of Endangered Species of Fish) Regulations 1999, Fisheries Act 1985.