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Malaysian Minister: Fish Bombers More Troublesome Shark Finners off Sabah Coast; 'Endless Problems'

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KOTA KINABALU, Malaysia -- The Agriculture and Food Industry Ministry with the assistance of the police, navy and maritime authority will be deploying enforcement units in a concerted effort to curtail fish-bombing in Sabah waters.

Minister Datuk Abdul Rahim Ismail identified "endless problems of fish-bombing" in the East Coast and along Pulau Mangalum and other small islands, as well as Kuala Abai off Kota Belud as the areas being most susceptible.

He considered the situation as far worse than the incidence of sharks in Sabah waters being hunted particularly for their fins and eventually becoming extinct.

He, however, said the Ministry is also adopting the same concerted effort, not only with regard to sharks but all other fishes.

Speaking in a Press conference after witnessing the signing of a MoU between UMS and Ko-Nelayan, here, Friday, Rahim said:

"I agree with the Vice Chancellor (Prof. Dr Mohd Noh Dalimin) that we have to focus on conservation of our natural heritage, especially our resources, either in the sea or on land."

On the setting up of a 'National Marine Aquaculture Centre', he said a paper would be presented to the Cabinet next week for consideration.

According to him, Agriculture and Agro-based Industry Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin was informed of Sabah's intention to have the centre seven months ago.

Based on positive signals after a series of meetings with the Federal authorities, the technical committee came up with a good report.

"We hope the Cabinet will give the green light before we proceed to the Federal authority. This concept is integrated, encompassing research and development (R&D), commercialisation, poverty eradication and so forth. It will be open to private sector participation."

Rahim said the location covering about 2,500 acres would most likely be either Kalumpang in Tawau or Bakapit in Lahad Datu.

On the plight of some 500 fishermen affected by the gazetting of an area for utilisation by UMS and, therefore, "off-limits" to the former, as disclosed by the Vice Chancellor in his address, he said they would be rendered the necessary assistance.

This could be through a programme initiated by the Malaysian Fisheries Development Authority (LKIM) or the Federal Rural Ministry.

"We will distribute easy-payment loans to these fishermen in the form of a package - outboard engine, nets, among others."

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