KOTA KINABALU, July 10 — The Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) has detected syndicates from neighbouring countries that brought in fish bombing equipment before selling it to foreign fishermen in the state.
Sabah and Labuan Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) director First Admiral Maritime Mohd Rosli Abdullah said MMEA intelligence found that the material was a fuse bought from a neighbouring country before being sold and marketed to individuals who catch fish.
“This syndicate brings in explosives (fuse) before being sold to foreign fishermen or bajau laut (sea gypsies) who are usually involved in fish bombing activities in Sabah waters.
“Some individuals (involved in the syndicate) have been arrested and have been detained under the Prevention of Crime Act (POCA) 1959, but there are still fish bombing activities going on because there is a demand for the device,” he told Bernama recently.
Mohd Rosli also did not rule out the possibility that the fuse used to bomb the fish could also be obtained at the local market as the total cost to produce a fish bomb was only around RM20.
He said apart from a fuse, other materials used to produce fish bombs included bottles and fertilisers (ammonia).
He said until May this year, the MMEA recorded nine cases involving fish bombing activities while 10 cases were recorded last year.
He explained that in an effort to curb fish bombing activities, cooperation from the community is very important in channelling information to the authorities, especially MMEA.
“In routine patrols, MMEA usually only deals with cases of fishermen fishing in areas where they are not allowed to operate due to the class licence they have.
“But during the operation, fishermen who carry out fish bombing activities will usually flee and abandon their boat when approached by the MMEA,” he said, adding that among the areas where fish bombing was the main focus was Gaya and Mantanani islands in Kota Belud.
Recently, the media reported that there were fish bombing activities on Mantanani island in the waters of Kota Belud that caused some divers to experience explosions and strong vibrations while in the water that could have killed them.
In March last year, Sabah Agriculture and Food Industry Minister Datuk Junz Wong reportedly said the ministry would work with relevant agencies to restrict the supply and purchase of fish bomb-making materials.
Mohd Rosli said the impact of the fish bombing could not only cause the loss of lives but also the destruction of coral reefs and other marine life.
In a related development, Mohd Rosli also hoped that the state’s assets in the state could be increased to meet the specific needs of its operations.
He said apart from assets, additional members were also needed to carry out operations especially in the face of ‘tonto’ (tout) who were constantly observing the movement of MMEA.
Meanwhile, Mohd Rosli said MMEA also introduced the team’s new uniform which has begun to be worn in Sabah and Sarawak starting last week.
He said the special feature of the new uniform was that the rank of MMEA officer was located in the collar of the shirt compared to the shoulder previously while for other members it remained in the sleeve section.
“If at sea the rank will be covered with a safety shirt or bulletproof vest while in operation. If it is in the collar it is easier to see and show the rank of a member who has the power to carry out the operation,” he said.
Mohd Rosli also advised fishermen and anglers who go out to sea to bring a location tracking device (personal locator beacon) to facilitate the authorities to detect when something untoward happens at sea. — Bernama