By Lim Sue Goan
Some fishermen had also responded to the call and upgraded their B fishing trawlers to C2 vessels. A new C2 vessel cost about RM2 million and there are about 1,200 C2 vessels in the country.
Time flew and no expected result was shown. Instead, various kinds of issues surfaced, including foreign navies intervention, threats from pirates, invasion of foreign fishing vessels, as well as manpower shortage.
Strikes from fishing operators have taken place over the years and some operators did not go to sea due to the massive illegal worker crackdown in 2007.
According to Agriculture and Agro-Based Industry Deputy Minister Datuk Wira Mohd Johari Baharum, the Ali Baba operation in which crony companies lease their licences for deep-sea fishing to foreign trawlers has allowed them to enjoy at least RM5,000 of revenue per month.
With natural deficiencies and the lack of a long-term development and management strategy, fisheries is now facing various kinds of problems. The fuel issue alone seems to be able to collapse the whole industry.
In fact, the government might learn from Thailand in assisting fishermen to overcome difficulties brought by high fuel prices.
Thailand is the third largest marine fishing nation in Asia after Japan and China. However, Thailand does not produce oil. The Thai government lets deep-sea vessels stay at sea while the catches would be brought back by small fishing boats to reduce fuel consumption. Also, its government helps some fishermen to join other areas of the industry such as becoming helpers in fish processing factories, as well as cultivating and breeding fish and shrimps.
Thai fishermen have predicted that the fishing industry would be gone in a few years time. If Malaysia takes no action to solve the problems, we will someday have to bear high fish prices.