SERDANG, Dec 4 — Ninety per cent of the country’s waters is now free from intrusion by foreign fishing boats since an operation code-named “Op Naga” was launched last April, said Agriculture and Agro-Based Industry Minister Datuk Seri Salahuddin Ayub.
He said during the period, 160 foreign fishing boats were detained in the South China Sea and the Straits of Melaka, resulting in a significant increase in catches of local fishermen on the East Coast and the West Coast.
“The operation is not limited to detaining foreign fishing boats but also to prevent the use of fishing equipment such as dragon fish traps that can destroy the marine ecosystem,” he told a press conference after opening a dialogue on the national fisheries industry here today.
As such, Salahuddin said the Cabinet had agreed to continue conducting the operation which involved cooperations of five ministries to a period to be decided later.
Op Naga involves collaborations between five ministries, namely the Agriculture and Agro-Based Industry, the Home Ministry, the Defence Ministry, the Transport Ministry and the Foreign Ministry.
In the meantime, Salahuddin cautioned fishermen against using their fishing boats to transport illegal immigrants as such action was a violation of laws and licensing conditions.
“The licence has been issued for fishing activities and not for transporting foreigners. If they (fishermen) are caught (carrying out illegal activities), it is no longer under the jurisdiction of the ministry...do not get involved in illegal activities,” he said.
On steps taken to help fishermen during monsoon season, Salahuddin said the ministry had issued the Monsoon Season Trawl Net (PTMT) licence to fishing boats with a validity period of three months beginning November. — Bernama