KUCHING: Foreign vessels trespassing into Sarawak waters have affected fishing activities in Miri, Bintulu and Sibu, according to Sarawak Fishermen Association (Penesa).

Penesa chairman Jam Hajimi revealed that two weeks ago, this pressing issue came up at a meeting with representatives from the areas who complained about incidents of encroachment.

“I told them to leave it to the Miri branch chairman to write a letter to the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) and the Fisheries Department.

“There are also MMEA and Fisheries Department offices located in the Miri district,” he said.

Jam noted that this problem had not affected Kuching.

“Division 2 and 3 are affected, situated in the waters of Miri, Bintulu and Sibu.

“In Sarawak, there are 18 areas under the purview of the association which is then divided into four divisions. Kuching is in Division 1, which is unaffected along with Division 4,” Jam explained.

Last Saturday, Bintulu MP Datuk Seri Tiong King Sing lambasted MMEA and Fisheries Department for not fulfilling their roles to protect Sarawak waters against foreign fishing vessels.

He expressed his concern about the safety of Sarawak fishermen who are unarmed and unprotected at sea with little to no protection from the authorities.

Tiong viewed that the excuses from the authorities such as insufficient fuel for their patrol boats as well as unwillingness to pursue foreign vessels for fear of reprisals were unacceptable.

He also called for the disbanding of the maritime authorities and the transfer of their duties to the Royal Malaysian Police’s Marine Operations Force.