Trawler fishermen, who had been encouraged by the Fisheries Department to convert from traditional methods to trawler fishing in the mid-1960s, to help increase the total fish landings in the country, are now faced with great hardships and difficulties, especially after 1980 Fisheries Regulations which require trawl nets to have mesh size of not less than 1.5 inches, as compared to the previous 1 inch mesh size.
On 19th October 1982, the Batu Pahat Fisheries Association, Johore, in an emergency meeting, adopted the following resolutions requesting the Minister of Agriculture to help them:
“Mereka memohon jasa baik dan pertolongan Menteri Pertanian membatalkan Peraturan-Peraturan Perikanan mengenai Penggunaan pukat yang mata pukatnya berukuran 1½ inci, dengan sebab dalam kawasan Batu Pahat, Johor, kebanyakan hasil penangkapan mereka, iaitu pukat tunda, ialah ‘udang putih’, ‘udang batu’, ‘udang tajam’, dan ‘udang merah’ yang badannya panjang di antara 1½ inci dan 2 inci (udang besar hanya berjumlah 1% dari hasil penangkapan mereka). Dengan udang tersebut yang kecik itu, diwajibkan menggunakan pukat tunda yang mata pukatnya berukuran 1½ inci itu, maka udang udang kevil itu akan mudah dilepaskan dari pukat oleh kerana pukat tunda ditarikkan dengan deras dan udang-udang yang terlepas itu akan mati dan mengotorkan muka air laut.
2. Pada Bukan Mac 1982, Jabatan Perikanan telah menjalankan gerakan tangkap dan kaji di Kawan Batu Pahat, selama tiga hari untuk menguji dan menyiasat penggunaan pukat yang mata pukatnya berukuran 1½ inci itu. Dalam tempoh selama tiga hari itu, pengawai-pengawai yang berkenaan menangkap ikan dan udang sebanyak enam kali setiap hari, hasil penangkapan mereka itu hanya $97.60 dalam tempuh tiga hari itu. Hal ini menunjukkan bahawa pukat yang mata pukatnya berukuran 1½ inci itu tidak sesuai digunakan oleh kaum pukat tunda.
3. Mereka menimbulkan masaalah nelayan pukat tunda yang dikehendaki menangkap ikan di kawasan sejauh lima batu latu dari pantai, dimana mereka sentiasa diancam dan diperasugut oleh lanun-lanun dikawasan yang berhampiran dengan Selat Melaka dan perairan Indonesia. Mereka juga sentiasa berjumpa bot-bot peronda Indonesian yang No. bot mereka BC 5003 dan BC 3002 dan mereka sentiasa diperasugut oleh mereka. Tambahan pula, dikawasan jauh itu, mereka terpaksa lebih membelanjakan minyak diesel yang mahal itu.”
I would call on the Minister of Agriculture to ensure that the trawler fishermen, who had acted bona fide in converting into trawler fishing in response to government appeal in the 1960s, are not neglected by the government. If the government wants the trawler fishermen to undertake even more capital-intensive and deep-sea fishing, then the Government must come out with a scheme to help the trawler fishermen to convert to even bigger scale of trawler fishing. At the same time, the Government must ensure that the trawler fishermen do not become victims of high sea piracies by our neighboring country’s naval forces.
It is a great paradox that while the New economic Policy was launched in a great fanfare to eliminate poverty, the fishermen in the country remain the poorest poverty group in the country who have not been able to escape from the clutches of poverty.
MAJUIKAN, for instance, has been a great failure to fight poverty among the fishing community. The operations of MAJUIKAN had been plagued with great malpractices, abuses of political position by local political officials in the ruling parties, and failure of various scheme to increase fish productivity and incomes of fishermen.
The Chairman of MAJUIKAN, the Mp for Pasir Puteh, Wan Najib bin Wan Mohamed, instead of spending so much time making extremist speeches in Parliament, would do well to spend more time to ensure that MAJUIKAN succeeds in uplifting the poverty of the fishermen.
An area where MAJUIKAN had failed badly is in the area of commercial fish farming. Marine fish landings in Malaysia in 1982 is estimated at 861,000 tonnes, while freshwater fish production is estimated at 8,500 tonnes, an increase of 1.2% compared with 8,400 tonnes in 1981.
In 1976, production through aquaculture constituted about 6 per cent of the total fish production in Malaysia. This has now fallen even lower. This is a most insignificant percentage when compared to other countries in Asia such as China, estimated at 40%, India 38%, Indonesia 22%, and Philippines 20%.
I understand that MAJUIKAN had a major commercial fish farm in Puchong which it had now abandoned than that MAJUIKAN had in fact moved out of fresh-water fish culture altogether.
Aquaculture must be expanded to play a significant role in fish production in the country, not only in ensuring adequate protein supply for Malaysians, but also in terms of employment and foreign earnings which could be derived from aquaculture.
I suggest that the Ministry of Agriculture should set up a special department to promote aquaculture in the country to ensure that it comprised a significant portion of total fish production each year. There are more than 40,000 hectares of water surface which are suitable for fish culture in West Malaysia alone, but this resource has been hardly utilised. Another 150,000 hectares of mangrove swamps and mudflats in West Malaysia are also suitable for the development of coastal aquaculture.
Such a special department to promote aquaculture should overcome the major constraints in the development of aquaculture on a large scale in Malaysia such as inadequate seed supply; lack of standardization of techniques and management systems; shortage of feed; diseases and predators; pollution and pesticides; lack of know-how in pond construction and engineering, lack of technical personnel; and quality control of aquaculture products, to credit and marketing.
(Speech by Parliament Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary-General and MP for Kota Melaka, Lim Kit Siang in Dewan Rakyat on the allocation for the Ministry of Agriculture on November 16, 1982)