LABUAN, Nov 22 — The South China Sea, Sulu Sea, and Sulawesi Sea Tuna Industry Strategic Development Plan 2021-2030 involving six core thrusts aimed at improving the tuna fishing industry in the country was launched in this duty-free island today.

The strategic plan by the Ministry of Agriculture and Food Industries (MAFI) is a continuation of a similar plan launched 19 years ago in 2002. It now focuses on increasing tuna landing from the three seas mentioned.

Agriculture and Food Industries Minister Datuk Seri Ronald Kiandee said the strategic plan is also in line with the government’s hope of meeting the development policy of the country’s deep-sea fishing industry which is also in tandem with the National Agrofood Policy 2.0.

“The strategic plan targets a competitive outcome which is to ensure that the development of the tuna industry in the country can be implemented more comprehensively through the addition of more deep-sea vessels for tuna fishing in the Malaysian Economic Exclusive Zone (EEZ) and the high seas and improving tuna landing in Malaysia to 150,000 metric tonnes,” he said at the launch.

He said other targets included the development of modern integrated deep-sea fishing and tuna vessels, compliance to domestic and international resolutions to reach 85 per cent and improving the high-quality tuna-based product market at the domestic and international levels.

“The strategic plan will also help provide the catalyst for the development of the tuna industry through private investment, sustainable development of the tuna fishing industry and meeting international standards, the development of human capital in fishing and tuna processing and finally improving technology development,” he said.

Ronald said that although Sabah and Labuan are located in East Malaysia, tuna harvest in the South China Sea, Sulu Sea and Sulawesi Sea must be managed and given attention as well as exploited so that tuna landing can be improved and the income of local fishermen enhanced.

The six core thrusts of the strategic plan are — Core 1: Compliance with Domestic and International Instrumentation for Deep Sea Fishing and Tuna; Core 2: Development of Vessel Specification and Tools and Determining the Tuna Quota; Core 3: Development and Enhancement of Tuna Fishing Technology.

Core 4: The Development of a Management System, Control and Tuna Fishing Profiling; Core 5: Improving the Monitoring Capacity of Tuna Fishing and Core 6: Improving Post-Catch Quality and Value-added Tuna Fishing.

MAFI launched the National Agrofood Policy 2021-2030 (DAN 2.0) in October to drive economic growth and improve the welfare of the people, apart from putting priority on the country’s food security and national food nutrition.

“Apart from DAN 2.0, the push for deep-sea fishing through the modernisation of vessels is among the efforts being implemented by MAFI through the Department of Fisheries (DOF) under the National Food Security Policy 2021 - 2030 (DSMN) that is meant to guarantee a constant supply of protein food sources,” Ronald said.

Towards this end, he said the Government had allocated an RM150 million fund to finance the vessel modernisation programme and mechanised fishing, with RM100 million set aside for Zone A and Zone B and  RM50 million for Zone C and C2.

“To date, we have received 265 applications for a total of RM108 million which has been endorsed at the DOF level, and from the amount, RM92 million is to finance the modernisation programme and RM16 million for financing of the mechanisation programme,” he said.

Ronald also said the federal government has given its commitment and has allocated RM14 million to the Fisheries Department to undertake the Deep Sea and Tuna Commercial Fisheries Development Project in an effort to improve landings and the involvement of industry players aside from value-added deep-sea and tuna fishing under the 12th Malaysia Plan (12MP).

“With this initiative, the management and commercial fishing control can be improved via digital platforms, improvements made on international compliance, improvement of landing facilities and handling fishing products and also help  increase  deep-sea fishing and tuna output,” he said. — Bernama