KOTA KINABALU: Sabah will emulate the Federal Government’s move to ban the use of crocodile and trawl nets to protect the depleting fish stocks in the State.
Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Seri Yahya Hussin said he would be bringing the matter up to the Cabinet for a suitable mechanism to be developed to introduce the new law.
“I fully support the move by the Federal. In fact, I have been talking about this in the past,” he told reporters when met during at a Chinese New Year luncheon that he hosted for the media here yesterday.
According to Yahya, a lot of complaints have been received from traditional fishermen in Sabah, who said the use of trawl nets by commercial fishing boats had reduced the fish stocks in Sabah’s water and consequently their income.
Yahya said traditional fishermen who rely on catches from shallow coastal waters were greatly affected as these trawlers operate not only in deep water but also in areas closer to shore, where they cause the most damage to the marine ecosystem.
“The trawl nets catch all types of fishes, including the small ones that have yet to reach sexual maturity. This has resulted in the extinction of certain species,” said Yahya, who is also the Minister of Agriculture and Food Industry.
He conceded that trawl nets were still being used in Sabah, although the numbers of those using this destructive method were not as many as in the past, partly due to the many artificial reefs set up in some areas that had caused damage to their nets.
Deputy Agriculture and Agro-based Industry Minister Datuk Mohd Johari Baharum announced on Sunday that the Federal Government would be implementing the ban soon. He said the ministry was just waiting for the right time to issue the relevant notice to the fishermen.
Meanwhile, when commenting on toxic sea cucumber deaths in Kudat, Yahya said the case was an isolated one and the victims had died after eating the wrong kind of species.
“Sea cucumbers are generally edible like mushrooms. Mushrooms are edible but there are certain types that cannot be eaten, or can be eaten only if prepared in a certain manner.
“In this case, those who can deal with it (sea cucumber) and knows how to cook it, then maybe it can be eaten safely or maybe combining with other things it becomes poisonous,” he said.
He however cautioned the public not to eat any sea cucumber species that they are not familiar with.
When asked about Sabah Progressive Party’s (SAPP) promise that Sabah would issue its own identification cards to Sabahans should it take over the State Government, Yahya said citizenship is under the purview of the Federal Government and any state government could not just issue a separate citizenship documentation to its people.
“In Malaysia, there is only one kind of identity card and it is under the Federal control. We are one warganegara, we cannot have two warganegeras, just like that. We cannot have Kedah with its own IC and Selangor with another kind of IC because we are all Malaysians. We already have a kind of common agreement that we are one nation,” he said.
He stressed that citizenship and IC were national issues and any shortcomings in their issuance would be dealt with and rectified by the country, not separately by the individual state.
Yahya added the issue of counterfeiting is a common crime involving various documents and even money and not exclusive to Sabah and the government have always enforced the laws and punished those found to be involved.
On the luncheon function, he said it was to show his appreciation and recognition of the media’s role in assisting the government and its leaders in disseminating important information to the people.