Haji Zolkipli Mohamad Aton

KUCHING: Fishermen are urged to report any sightings of encroachment activities in Sarawak’s waters to the authorities, Sarawak Forestry Corporation (SFC) said.

Its chief executive officer Zolkipli Mohamad Aton said fishermen can go through their Fishermen Association to prevent activities that violated the regulations on the sea.

“I request that fishermen through the Fishermen’s Association work with SFC to play a role in preventing any activities that violate regulations such as the encroachment of foreign fishermen.

“Report the activity immediately to the authorities,” he said in his speech at the ceremony to deploy reef balls in Daro on Saturday.

On the formation of the artificial reef comprising reef balls, the SFC chief said it will deter foreign vessels as the reef balls could damage the nets of their trawlers.

“It is a deterrent in terms of passive enforcement. This is because the reef was found to be successful tearing the trapped nets and this causes trawlers to avoid the fishing ban zone,” he said.

Zolkipli added, besides that it would also conserve and protect marine ecosystems, endangered marine species and their habitats along with improving the socio-economy of fishermen in the area.

“Under Projek Rakyat, a total of RM70 million was allocated by the state government to deploy a total of 16,800 reef balls from 2018 to 2021 in Sarawak waters.

“To date, SFC has successfully deploy 600 reef balls in Belawai-Paloh waters in 2018, while in 2019, 600 units in Lawas waters and 1,200 units in Igan to Mukah waters,” he said.

Zolkipli added, after the deployment of 660 reef balls in the northern waters of Pulau Bruit-Igan, SFC will deploy 900 reef balls each in Santubong to Sematan, and Sematan to Tanjung Datu.

“This project will be completed next year (2021) as planned, and when completed, Sarawak will set a record in boasting the longest artificial reef in the world,” he said.