MUKAH, Oct 1 — Sarawak Chief Minister Datuk Abang Johari Openg today announced that his state government will set up its own coastal area enforcement unit after amending the State Fisheries Ordinance 2003.
He said the enforcement unit will police the coastal areas with the power to detain illegal foreign fishermen.
“I have directed the state Attorney General’s Chamber (AGC) to study the law relating to coastal and riverine fishing industry,” he said at the launch of planting artificial reefs in the waters off the coast of Igan-Mukah here.
“We may not be able to table the Bill in next month’s sitting of the state assembly as the AGC is still studying the law, but we will do so in the sitting in April next year,” he said.
“Based on the outcome of the proposed amendment, we will set up a coastal area enforcement unit,” the chief minister said.
Abang Johari said coastal and riverine fishing industry is within the purview of the state government as provided for under the Federal Constitution.
He said the state government wants to manage the coastal and riverine fishing industry in a more structured manner.
He said the state government wants the fishermen to have specific rules to adhere to and to prevent any encroachment by foreigners.
“We must defend our coastal area which is the state’s right,” he said.
The chief minister said he will announce the setting up of a fund to assist the local fishermen, especially during the monsoon season.
“I know that they can’t go out during this season because of rough seas, so they need help from the state government,” he said.
Abang Johari said the state’s fishermen used to get financial assistance from the previous Barisan Nasional federal government, but it was withdrawn when Pakatan Harapan (PH) took federal power.
On the artificial reefs, the chief minister said it has succeeded in increasing the fish population in areas already planted with the artificial reefs.
He said this has resulted in the coastal fishermen improving their income.
Assistant Minister of Urban Development and Resources Datuk Len Taliff Salleh said the state government, through the Sarawak Forestry Corporation (SFC), is targetting to plant 16,000 artificial reefs along the coast of Sarawak within two years.
He said about 7,500 artificial reefs have been planted along the coast over the last 20 years.