The Consumers Association of Penang (CAP) urges the Kedah Fisheries Department and Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) to take immediate action to overcome the serious threat of push nets, purse seines and illegal trawlers in the state.
The problem has become more serious and affects the daily income of more than 2,000 fishermen here as their catches of fish and prawns have declined.
CAP's survey and interview found that fishermen's revenue in the past few years has declined by about 70 percent each time they go out to fish in the sea.
Sometimes they come back to the shore empty-handed when the trawler encroachments and destructive fishing activities in the waters are rampant.
Operators of push nets, purse seines and illegal trawlers are based in Kuala Sanglang Kuala Tunjang, Kuala Jerlun, Kuala Kedah and Kuala Tebengau.
Activities of these boats have resulted in the pollution of coastal fishermen's fishing zone (one to five nautical miles from the coast). The seawater here stinks, whilst fish and shrimp breeding grounds have been destroyed.
Fish fry, juvenile fish including high quality semilang, senangin, kerisi pomfret, Indian mackerel and others die due to these destructive activities.
In view of this, CAP calls upon the Department of Fisheries and Maritime Enforcement Agency to strictly enforce the Fisheries Act 1985 without giving any leeway to those who violate the regulations enacted thereunder.
CAP regrets that although this problem has persisted for over 30 years, no effective changes and measures have been taken to address and resolve them.
CAP is concerned and believes that if the situation is allowed to persist, it would threaten marine life and affect the livelihood of coastal fishermen in the state.
The future of the country's fisheries sector and food supply for the people would also be seriously affected.
SM Mohamed Idris is president, Consumers Association of Penang.