KOTA KINABALU, July 11 — Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) director for Sabah Kamaruszaman Abu Hassan today said that fish bombing activities have been difficult to deter due to a high demand for bombed fish which are cheaper and because materials to make explosives are easily obtained.
Kamaruszaman said those behind such activities are usually illegal immigrants who are difficult to track down.
“Investigations have shown that those involved in fish bombing activities tend to be illegal immigrants.
“Whenever there is raid or patrols by the authorities, they easily escape. We believe they work as a syndicate,” he said during a press conference here today.
He said the fish bombing menace will not be solved as long as the illegal immigrant issue is not addressed.
“In the east coast, we have information that people can easily get the ingredients, either locally or from outside the country,” he said.
Kamaruszaman said the demand for bombed fish was also high, due to their cheaper price.
“This is based on information from surveillance and operations state-wide, particularly during a raid in the rural district of Kota Belud yesterday,” he said, adding that the MMEA had seized over 30kg of fish believed to have been caught with bombs at a fish market there.
Kamaruszaman said apart from fish bombs, syndicates were also using sodium cyanide, that renders fish unconscious and makes them easy to catch. However, such fish could be poisonous to humans when consumed.
He added that these fish bombers have little care for the environment or safety and have no qualms about setting off fish bombs near oil platforms.
“We are working with oil and gas companies to try and put a stop to such activities at these high-risk areas. Meanwhile, we are also imploring to Malaysians not to support fish bombing by not buying bombed fish.
“We are working with other agencies to weed out this menace, as well as the illegal immigrant issue, but cooperation from the public is also important,” he said.
Last week, three scuba divers — one Malaysian and two Chinese tourists — were killed in an island off Semporna, in Sabah’s east coast with injuries caused by an explosion, believed to be that of fish bombers.
Authorities have doubled down on fish bombers since then and the chief minister has called for stiffer penalties for culprits.