IN FOCUS: Falling fish catch in Malaysia spells trouble for industry, region; highlights

Meanwhile, Mr Adnan of the DOF said that his department has been building artificial reefs at different locations around the country, with about 1,800 installed at more than 100 locations since 2016.

“These reefs help conserve marine resources by creating new areas for the growth of corals. This helps provide breeding areas for fish and other marine life, helping create new habitats and protected areas,” he said. 

Beyond that, Mr Adnan said that the authorities have limited the catch for certain types of fishes to a particular season, such as the case of anchovies that are caught off the coast of Langkawi. 

WWF-Malaysia told CNA that stakeholders in the fisheries and seafood industry need to work together to promote sustainable fisheries that emphasises the need for a science-based fisheries approach to sustain the marine resources. 

The organisation said that this can be done through stock recovery, establishing a commercially and ecologically viable fisheries industry, while also protecting the fishing communities’ livelihoods. 

“The seafood supply chain needs to reform; to adopt digitisation of catch data and traceability systems. Consumers need to rethink the consumption of seafood, to only choose sustainable options, and only choose seafood at a responsible consumption rate,” it said.

WWF-Malaysia warned that the increased fishing efforts over the past 50 years – as well as unsustainable practices in the industry – are pushing many fish stocks “to the point of collapse, with livelihoods dependent on fish adversely affected”.  

“Fishers need to put in more effort to catch fish; they need to go further out to sea and spend more time harvesting, and in return they are catching smaller and lesser fish,” it said.   

Mr Chia – the fisherman in the coastal town of Sungai Besar – told CNA that should the catch continue to be dismal and the situation persists, he may have “no choice” but to sell his 20-year-old fishing boat at a loss after the Chinese New Year celebrations in February.

He still has debts to pay while two of his children are still studying in university. But he will be in a twist on what he will do next. 

“This is the only thing I know and have done since I was young. I never went to school. What else can I do?,” said Mr Chia.

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