WWF-Malaysia Supports DoF’s Enforcement of Bigger Mesh Size For Nets, Calls for Holistic Management for Fisheries
The enforcement, announced by Minister of Agriculture and Agro-based Industry, Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob, came into effect on 1 November. It is aimed at protecting marine resources as trawlers were hauling in substantial quantities of juvenile fish as part of the catches.
“It is a right step in addressing the urgent issue of overfished waters in Malaysia and will help reduce fishing pressure on an already depleted resource base,” said WWF-Malaysia’s Executive Director/CEO, Dato’ Dr Dionysius Sharma.
“WWF-Malaysia is working closely with DoF to introduce a holistic fisheries management regime, the Ecosystem Approach to Fisheries Management (EAFM), that looks into the management of the habitats or ecosystems that directly or indirectly support fish populations, as well as the local communities who rely on these resources,” Dr Sharma said.
“We are pleased that work on the EAFM is progressing. We look forward to the implementation of the EAFM in the near future as it will lead to sustainable fishing in Malaysian waters and safeguard food security as well as fishermen’s’ livelihoods in the long run,” he added.
A key aspect of EAFM is reducing the catch of juvenile fish, ensuring fishing activities do not occur in sensitive marine ecosystem such as coral reefs, sea grass beds, and that spawning areas for fish are protected.
According to surveys and reports by DoF, between 1971 and 2007, the country has lost almost 92% of its fishery resources led by overfishing to satiate the growing demand for seafood.
“WWF-Malaysia believes that increasing mesh sizes will protect juvenile fish. Our fish stocks will not be able to replenish if juvenile fish are caught before they have a chance to reproduce at least once. This is underlined by the significant increase in “trash fish” landings in our waters, mainly contributed by trawl fisheries as the gear is non-selective,” said Dr Sharma.
Adherence to this critical mesh size ruling will ultimately sustain the ecosystems that support fish populations and the communities who rely on these resources, he added.
Trash fish are mostly made up of non-commercial species and juvenile fish which are critical for the health of the ecosystem. Once they have been removed, there is no opportunity to improve the health of the fish stocks.
Fish is a major source of protein for Malaysians. Malaysia is the top seafood consumer in Southeast Asia. If the marine ecosystem is destroyed, it will not only affect the livelihoods and food security of those who depend on fisheries, but will also see the collapse of all industries that depend on a healthy ocean, such as the tourism industry.
Malaysians love seafood, but if something is not done urgently to address the alarming state of fish stocks, then the country will have to depend more on imported fish species.
“WWF-Malaysia has developed a seafood guide (http://saveourseafood.my/) which helps consumers make ocean-friendly decisions when it comes to their seafood. We recommend Malaysians to follow this list and, where available, to buy seafood certified by the Marine Stewardship Council and the Aquaculture Stewardship Council,” Dr Sharma said.
For further information:
Nadiah Rosli, Peninsular Malaysia Seas Programme Communications Officer, WWF-Malaysia
Tel: +603-78033772 ext 6433 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Yeoh Lin Lin, Head of Communications, WWF-Malaysia
Tel: +603-78033772 Email: email@example.com