Abang Johari hands over a mock cheque to the fishermen’s association of Daro for buying fishing equipment.

KUCHING: Sarawak will boast the distinction of having the longest artificial reef in the world when it completes deploying the reef balls along its coastlines, said Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg.

He said the reef balls had been deployed in various parts of the state, part of a RM70 million artificial reef project for Sarawak to protect its marine life and also to increase the income of its fishermen.

“We want to increase the number of fishes as well as deter foreign trawlers from entering our waters. If they come here, their fishing nets will be damaged by the heavy reef balls.

“Through the reef ball project, the fishes can grow and improve the income of our fishermen. If we measure the length of the artificial reef, Sarawak will have the longest of its kind in the world,” he said when officiating at the deployment of reef balls in Daro today.

At the ceremony, a total of 660 reef balls were deployed at the northern part of Pulau Bruit-Igan. At present there are 5,400 reef balls deployed statewide and another 1,800 to be deployed by the end of the year.

Abang Johari said besides Daro, the reef balls had been deployed at the coastlines off Belawai, Tanjung Datu and Sebuyau up to Kuching.

“I was told that the fishermen in Belawai managed to increase their income by twofold. Those in Mukah also benefitted from the reef balls as their catch have increased,” he said.

The chief minister said, previously the sea reef was funded by the federal government, but it had not been consistently funding the project.

“The federal government has a policy to deploy artificial reef, back then it used tires, but sometimes the allocation was there, some other time it wasn’t.

“That is why I took the decision to implement it on our own and not depend on Malaya,” he said.