30 September 2016, Kota Kinabalu: The Sabah Shark Protection Association (SSPA) is in full support of Sabah Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Seri Panglima Masidi Manjun’s recent statement on overfishing, particularly by foreign vessels that are encroaching into Sabah waters.
SSPA Chairman Aderick Chong said sharks, rays and turtles are at an increasingly high risk of being wiped out by these foreign boats.
“While encroachment by foreign fishing vessels is a major concern in Sabah waters, overfishing is also affecting our fisheries caused by overcapacity, use of non-selective fishing gear and, of course, the high demand of seafood as compared to other sources of protein,” he said.
The current state of fisheries in Malaysia is unhealthy, with steadily increasing fishing vessels chasing the same limited marine resources and marine fish stocks are already over-exploited. According to the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), 69% of the ocean’s commercially targeted fish stocks are mostly heavily exploited, some being over-exploited, with a handful either completely depleted or recovering at a slow pace from previous overfishing.
Unsustainable fishing practices and gear such as the use of trawlers and long driftnets make a significant negative impact on fish stocks in Sabah. These types of fishing methods not only kill the marine life but also destroy their habitat.
“We need to manage our fisheries better through the adoption of the Ecosystem Approach to Fisheries Management (EAFM) and support sustainable seafood farming (aquaculture) as a promising solution in satisfying the demands of seafood without relying exclusively on wild fish stocks which will eventually take a toll on oceans and marine life,” Aderick stressed.
Illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing is a worldwide destructive threat to the ocean and very damaging to fish populations. The extent of IUU fishing can include fishing without an appropriate licence, keeping undersized and protected fishes and using banned fishing gear.
The SSPA applauds any efforts by the Sabah government to tackle issues of IUU fishing. Sharks, rays, turtles and other marine resources are constantly under pressure, and even more so with foreign vessels sweeping through our waters.
The SSPA also supports all government agencies to further its goals in protecting the ocean and marine life. The association will seek the guidance from and support the Department of Fisheries (DoF) Sabah.
“As Datuk Masidi aptly states – not only are we overfishing, we are fishing the future as well,” continued Aderick.
SSPA is a civil society collaboration that targets to save and protect sharks and rays in Sabah.