Malaysia Fishing License Dilemma
It was all over social media over the past few days, a breaking news from the Department of Fisheries Malaysia (DOFM) that they will introduce and implement Fishing Permit or License for saltwater fishing activity. I know a lot of people might not understand the reason such implementation but to me it is a good move by DOFM however what they are planning to do does not fit the purpose of Fishing Licensing that related to sports fishing.
This post is solely based on my perception and opinion towards this issue and analysis over some data that I acquired. A friend of mine did went to the DOFM fishing licences introductory meeting and their insight will help me understand more on this issue.
1. What do we know so far?
DOFM will implement a general fishing license that are only meant for saltwater fishing activity which related to inshore and offshore fishing. Those who charter a boat must acquire the license, follow the rules and regulation or face a hefty fine. The license will cost RM10 per year and there are certain requirement for an angler to comply in order to renew the license the following year. DOFM will also impose bag limit and legal keeper size to promote sustainable fishing among anglers. DOFM will be they key agency that will collect the license fee and Maritime Malaysia (APMM) will be the sole agency to enforce the law.
Over the past few days, I’ve seen inaccurate information being pass through social media and causes confusion and overreaction towards this new implementation. There mixed thought from anglers, some of them actually liked the idea but others would say nay.
America, Australia and other European countries implemented fishing license to ensure anglers are responsible over their fishing activity, in return the money collected from the anglers are used to promote better recreational fishing through research and restocking fish population
2. Why do we need Fishing License?
Over the past 10 years, commercial fishing and sports fishing activities has increase over the past years and has put intense pressure on fish stock not only to sea species but fresh water species. Sharp decline in fisheries output has pushed related agency to introduce new policy that emphasis in sustainable fishing. An idea I believe should have been implemented years ago. We have subject experts and researchers across world class local universities which has for long been fighting for sustainable fishing and they deserve a better attention because the problem start too creep in.
If you ask me, a big YES we do need a fishing license that recognize fishing as a sport and to promote sustainable fishing best practice among anglers. The RM10 that an angler contribute must be utilize towards promoting recreational fishing and ensuring a healthy fish population. The whole idea must move forward towards accepting fishing as a sport, not as tool to hinder the anglers society to go out fishing. I’ve heard DOFM reaction towards implementing this license was only to mitigate their lost in saltwater fisheries. If this is the main reason, thus I don’t think this license implementation fits the purpose.
Bag Limit and Legal Size for anglers to keep is another great tool to impose but requires further research on what type of species that are relevant. This will ensure sustainable fishing population which has been pushed to a worrying level.
3. What is Sustainable Fisheries Practice?
The conventional idea of a sustainable fishery is that it is one that is harvested at a sustainable rate, where the fish population does not decline over time because of fishing practices. Sustainability in fisheries combines theoretical disciplines, such as the population dynamics of fisheries, with practical strategies, such as avoiding over-fishing through techniques such as individual fishing quotas, curtailing destructive and illegal fishing practices by lobbying for appropriate law and policy, setting up protected areas, restoring collapsed fisheries, incorporating all externalizes involved in harvesting marine ecosystems into fishery economics, educating stakeholders and the wider public, and developing independent certification programs.
Some primary concerns around sustainability are that heavy fishing pressures, such as over-exploitation and growth or recruitment over-fishing, will result in the loss of significant potential yield; that stock structure will erode to the point where it loses diversity and resilience to environmental fluctuations, that ecosystems and their economic infrastructures will cycle between collapse and recovery, with each cycle less productive than its predecessor; and that changes will occur in the tropic balance.
Fishing trawlers damages coral reef, catches small fish and the worst thing is, they simply take everything, worst possible method to promote sustainable fishing.
Illegal fishing activities that are happening right under the LEA nose.
APMM resources and capabilities are being stretched to the limit to enforce all the law that are bestowed to them.
4. Who should be responsible and adopt sustainable fishing?
Each and every single one of us who consume the resources from the sea should be responsible to protect it and this burden should be shared across anglers, fisherman and law enforcement agency equally. There is no point pointing fingers, as long as we can work together smartly than the idea of realizing sustainable fishing in Malaysia will be a success.
To point out solely to anglers that they claimed we exhausted the fish supply is totally absurd. We are all smart enough to know that it is a biological chain reaction accompanied dysfunction policies which does not promote sustainable fisheries effectively. Too long we have let ourselves being mocked and our voice are left unnoticed. We all share the same ocean with the fisherman and if the fisherman are not utilizing sustainable fishing practice. Then, this fishing license is totally rubbish and a simple way to collecting money from our pockets which is a short term policy to cover up their inability and incompetency to think out of the box. Same goes to all anglers, we need to start thinking and adopt sport fishing as a way to create a better future for us and our next generation of anglers.
I’ve seen people comments that the ocean is vast and there is no way the fish is going to deplete. That is wrong because I’ve seen the impact of over fishing myself in Port Dickson. 5 years ago, GT’s ranging from 3-4kg can be fished easily in Tanjung Tuan and we can land dozens of them. Now landing a GT in Port Dickson is a rare occasion. Same goes to Queenfish, last 2 years we can land huge Queenies ranging from 4-5kg and now they are small in size. Think about the next 1-2 years, maybe they would not be there at all. Maybe.
The idea of implementing Fishing License is what we want now to promote better recreational fisheries as well to promote sustainable fishing. However, the idea to simply collect money from anglers pocket without any return in favor is not acceptable. It is always great to start a detail research to understand more on the real issue and which the last research was done back in 1999. I believe we have a pool of experts that can help relevant agencies to prepare a better policy that consider and take into account all relevant stakeholders.
This way, all ideas, thoughts and recommendation are not being left behind. DOF failed this part by not considering recommendation and idea from all stakeholders and does not disseminate information properly. This has resulted confusion among angling community and resulted unwanted speculation and uproar to the agency. As of today, the idea of Fishing License were ceased by the Minister of Agriculture. Fishyology hope, the idea does not die there and all members continue to improvise and offer better perks and solutions that adds up the idea of sustainable fishing to better protect the ocean resources.