Image: Victor Barro
Malaysia is a country surrounded by seas and has a total coastline of 4,492km. It is 63,665.3 sq km in size. The Exclusive Economic Zone is 548,800 sq km in size. As a result it is indeed a challenge to manage the marine resources and the environment within Malaysia’s territorial sea. The fisheries sector is one of the main economic source for the country. This sector has played an important role as the cheapest protein source.
SAM has found that the fisheries sector has shown rapid development since even before Malaysia was granted independence. However, throughout this period, there have been a lot of negative development too. This can be seen in the management of fisheries resources, law enforcement on fisheries, natural marine life habitat conservation (mangrove forest, sea grass and corals), socio economic status of coastal fishermen and other aspects that require much attention.
The deterioration of natural habitats leading to the decline in fisheries resources will cause a collapse in the country’s fisheries industry. The continuous and serious decline of the fisheries resource will lead to the instability of the marine and coastal ecosystems and the extinction of many species. On land, fishermen would not be able to go to sea anymore. Lately, the coastal areas have been threatened by numerous development projects such as the destruction of mangrove forests, industrial acquaculture, heavy industrial development among others. This is a worrying trend for SAM as they hugely impact the fishery resources directly.
Hence, in an effort to fulfill the protein needs of society and to ensure that the national fisheries industry expands with sustainability of the marine resource in mind, SAM feels that there is a need for all quarters to work together to find a sensible solution so that the fishery resources would be managed sustainably.