KOTA KINABALU: Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Christina Liew called for stricter penalty on those found involved in fish bombing activities.
The Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister was of the opinion that heavier penalties such as hefty fines and longer jail terms would act as a deterrent to those who use this illegal fishing method.
Her call came after the deaths of three scuba divers off Semporna waters late Friday afternoon.
The three men have been identified as Ab Zainal Bin Abdu and China nationals Zhao Zhong and Xu Yingjie. They were believed to have been victims of fish bombing activities as dead fish and damage to the coral bed were seen at the location where their bodies were recovered.
“I was informed this evening of the incident involving the demise of two Chinese tourists and a dive instructor believed to be due to fish bombing in the Semporna area.
“While I understand, that this incident could have been avoided, the fact that fish bombing still prevails needs to be addressed seriously,” said Liew in a statement on Friday night.
Liew said she was deeply saddened that lives were taken as a result of the irresponsible act of fish bombing, which is illegal.
“I urge the related authorities and also officers within my department to be extra vigilant about this. Ensure enforcement within your jurisdiction that this does not occur again,” said Liew.
She pointed out that the tragic incident goes beyond the safety of tourists diving in the area and mars areas which are considered to be treasures to Sabahans.
“We will monitor this closely and extend assistance to the Consulate General of China. I call on stricter penalty to be imposed on those involved in illegal fish bombing so as to deter this kind of damaging activities in our waters.
“Meanwhile, I urge the public to not speculate and allow the authorities to do their thorough investigation,” she said.
In the incident which occurred at about 5.50pm on Friday, the three men were diving at Pulau Kulapuan, off Semporna.