KUANTAN – Aside from having to contend with “cartels” controlling prices and supply of fish, local fishermen are now alleging that government agencies are acting as middlemen to ease licence applications by foreign nationals, especially Vietnamese.

A fisherman who wants to be known as Sham, 51, told Getaran that the issue is nothing new as locals are allegedly sidelined by government agencies and foreign fishermen immune from prosecution.

“We initially found it strange that despite enforcement and arrests by the Maritime Enforcement Agency, foreign fishermen seemed immune from the law. When we take action to investigate, apparently, they have fishing licences from Malaysia.

“We found that there are government agencies allegedly acting as middlemen or agents to facilitate foreign fishermen, especially from Vietnam, to get licences. How can this happen?” he told The Vibes’ sister portal.

He said such actions will only affect local fishermen if left unchecked.

“If this continues and marine resources are depleted due to greed and abuse of power, we should not be blamed for this. As it is, we are worried about our dwindling catch.”

He said the government should take this seriously and mete out heavier punishment to officials found to be abusing their power.

“The government needs to create licences that have stricter security features, such as the ones used for road tax. Don’t forget, agencies involved in issuing licences need to be investigated by the government, especially the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission.”

Meanwhile, fisherman Yaakob, 41, said foreign fishermen are not afraid to trespass Malaysian waters to fish despite enforcement patrols.

He said sometimes foreign boats are seen less than 10 nautical miles from the Malaysian coast and often seen to be using prohibited trawls and nets that will destroy marine habitats.

“They don’t care as long as they get their catch. But the losers will be the local fishermen. Even now, certain seafood items are hard to find. This is very troubling.”

Earlier, Getaran reported that Malaysian Muslim Consumers’ Association president Datuk Nadzim Johan alleged the existence of cartels in the peninsula, and they were to blame for the shortage in seafood. He said supply had been decreasing since 2015 and blamed the government for letting the problem persist.

Article by: The Vibes