Dr Yii (left) speaks at a press conference. With him is Kuching Sungai Apong Fishing Kotak Association Secretary Kho Siew Leong. Photo: Ramidi Subari

KUCHING: Bandar Kuching MP Dr Kelvin Yii has suggested that the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Agro-based Industry allow Licence A fishermen to hire foreign workers to work on their vessels.

Yii explained that currently, under the Fisheries Act 1985 Section 10 (1)(c), a person who is not a Malaysian citizen cannot engage in any fishing activity related to the fishing vessels without the written approval of the director general.

“This restriction on Licence A fishermen to hire foreign workers is causing an issue as few locals are interested to venture in the labour intensive work,” he told a press conference after handing over a compassionate fund to Kotak Fishermen Association at Sungai Apong here yesterday.  

“We facilitated a dialogue between members of the Kotak Fishermen Association with the Department of Fisheries to bring up different issues that concerned the fishermen and one of them was the restriction on Licence A fishermen to hire foreign workers.

“These fishermen have tried many ways to recruit local people. But there is little interest among the locals.  

“And if the fishermen do not have enough workers, they will find it difficult to go out to sea and fish.

“If they are unable to fish, our fishing industries and their livelihood will be affected.”

Yii clarified that while hiring locals was still top priority, his proposal aimed to solve the issues faced by the fishermen.

“If necessary, I will bring these issues to the Federal Minister of Agriculture and Agro-based Industry Datuk Seri Salahuddin Ayub.

“We are trying to find a way to help the fishermen achieve a win-win solution,” he added.

In addition to that, Yii said certain conditions would be included in the proposal to ensure the state’s maritime resources were prioritised for its own consumption and use.

Among the conditions were that the owners had to be in the vessels during the fishing activities and that the foreign workers were not allowed to run the show.

Also present during the press conference were Pending assemblywoman Violet Yong and members of the Kotak Fishermen Association.

Dr Yii (left) speaks at a press conference. With him is Kuching Sungai Apong Fishing Kotak Association Secretary Kho Siew Leong. Photo: Ramidi Subari