by Parliamentary Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary-General and MP for Petaling, Lim Kit Siang, on Friday, 24th July 1981:
DAP welcome the Agriculture Minister’s three-month wxtension to defer implementation of the new Fisheries Regulations as a short-term measure, but calls for a comprehensive and long-term solution to the problems faced by the trawler fishermen especially in Pantai Remis and Dindings area
The DAP welcomes the decision of the Agriculature Minister, Datuk Abdul Manan Othman, to defer the enforcement of the new Fisheries Regulations by three months to Nov.1.
This is only a short-term measure, however, for Nov.1 will come very fast, and the hardships and problems faced by the trawler fishermen in Pantai Remis and Dindings in Perak, and elsewhere, would resurface soon enough.
The three-month period should be used by the Ministry of Agriculture to eork ot a comprehensive solution to the problems of the trawler fishermen.
In the 1960s, the present trawler fishermen were encouraged by the Fisheries Department to become trawler fishermen, and with their investments n trawler boats and gear, the government has a duty to help them and ensure that they do not suffer in livelihood and financial and economic losses because of news government regulations.
The new Fisheries Regulations prohibits the use of nets whose mesh size is less than 1.5 inches, and also prohibits trawlers of 40 tons and below from fishing within five miles of the shore as compared to the 3-mile limit previously.
In introducing new regulations which would lead to economic hardships to a group of Malaysians, the government is duty-bound to see to it that before such regulations are formulated, gazetted and enforced, that the group of Malaysians who would be adversely hit would be aided by the government to avoid such adverse effects on their livelihood.
In the present case in question, the five-mile ban has threatened the entire livelihood of the trawler fisherman who are mostly trawled fisherman of a smaller scale, at around 10-12 tons. The majority of the Malaysian trawler fishermen lack the sophisticated equipment and tonnage to fish in the 5 mile – 12 mile zone, or the finance to equip themselves with such facilities.
The bigger mesh net required under the new regulations also gravely affect the catches and incomes of the trawler fishermen, whose total catch by weight from small prawns comprise about 50 per cent, which will now escape the 1.5 inche mesh net.
The Minister’s advice to the trawler fishermen that they have three choices before them, namely, become even bigger trawler fisherman, or become inshore fisherman, or become inshore fishermen, or change their profession completely, is unhelpful. It would be as unhelpful if the Minister had told inshore fishermen that they have the choice of either keeping strictly within the 3 mile inshore, or becoming trawler fishermen or stop being fishermen altogether.
The Ministry of Agriculture should heed the pleas of the trawler fishermen to repeal the regulations and to allow them to continue to fish outside the 3-mile limit as previously, and reverting to the 1-inch mesh net, or come out with a Government scheme to enable the affected trawler fishermen to go onto a bigger scale in trawler fishing, which requires governmental financial sponsorship as it is beyond the financial means of the trawler fisherman themselves. Until this matter is resolved satisfactorily, the new regulations should not be enforced, and when Nov.1 comes, the Minister of Agriculture should be prepared to extend it by another one year to allow a satisfactory solution to the economic and social problem, faced by the trawler men.