KUCHING: A letter which empowers Sarawak with the authority to issue deep sea permits and licences is expected to further stimulate the fishing industry in the state.
Deputy Premier Datuk Amar Awang Tengah Ali Hasan said fisheries resources in Sarawak waters are still at an optimal level and thus can still be exploited by local fishermen.
“Prior to this, despite having a lot of rich resources in our waters and spaces yet to be explored, our lack of fishermen to explore the deep sea zone has caused us our resources.
“Hence, there is a lot of encroachment by foreign fishing vessels from Thailand, Vietnam and China who took advantage of it and sold their catches in their own country.
“Therefore, with the letter that was handed over to us, we must be active to help our fishing community and provide facilities for the people of Sarawak to get involved in this industry,” he said.
He said this in a press conference after attending the handing over of the Sarawak Deep Sea Fisheries Licensing Empowerment Letter ceremony at the Borneo Convention Center Kuching (BCCK) today.
Awang Tengah pointed out that the involvement of Sarawakians in this industry does not mean that Sarawak will continue to close its door to cooperation with outsiders.
“We will still cooperate with them but our goal for now is to give priority to the people of Sarawak to venture into this industry because this is a great opportunity for us,” he said.
Furthermore, he said that despite the authority given to the state, Sarawak still needs the cooperation of the federal government in developing this sector.
“We still need cooperation with the federal government because this involves sea borders between other countries, security issues and so on.
“In fact, cooperation with the federal government will also allow the people to receive various assistance for them to develop this industry for the good of the nation,” he said.
The approval of the empowerment authority to the Sarawak government for Deep Sea Fishing Licensing was decided during the Special Council Meeting on the Malaysia Agreement 1963 on Oct 18 last year which was chaired by the Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob.
Through this letter, the Director of the Fisheries Department of Sabah and Sarawak are given the authority to issue deep sea permits and licences for Zone C2 fishing vessels.
It also allows Sarawak and Sabah to implement existing and new policies related to fisheries management that are in line with the needs of the fishing industry in accordance with international fishing management norms.