Andrew Sebastian comments on marine destruction.. these practices must stop!

26 Jun 2015 01:00 PM, The

Trawling ban: Costlier seafood but marine life protected

by Robin Stanley Augustin

COMMENT: Humans have to be the cockiest, most selfish species on Earth.

For centuries, the human race in pursuing their own selfish wants and desires have caused untold damage to the planet and its other inhabitants. It is only recently that we have begun to realise that we cannot go on like this, that we realise the need to implement measures to better protect the environment.This of course means more than government policies and donations by corporations. The general public will also have to make sacrifices. But are we ready?

In a recent report by The Star Online, the Malaysia Fish Industries General Association (MFIGA) sounded a warning that fresh seafood supplies would dwindle if the government bans the use of trawl nets in Zone B (between 14.8km and 28km from the shore).

For the record, Agriculture and Agro-based Industries Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob announced last year that trawl nets would be banned from 2016 and advised fishermen to use the pukat jerut (purse seine) instead to protect the interests of inshore fishermen.

That move was lauded by environmental and consumer groups, who said it would help protect and ensure the recovery of marine ecosystems.

However, in the recent report, a MFIGA association spokesman, Toh Sang Chai said since most quality seafood was sourced in Zone B, the ban would affect the supply and result in the country importing it from other countries at higher cost.

Toh said although fishermen could upgrade their trawl nets to purse seine, this would cost about RM1 million and asked who would give them a loan to refit their boats.  Toh also said that operating a boat using a purse seine would require more manpower, up to four to five times that of a trawler boat.

He said without the necessary equipment and financial means to change to purse seine, fishermen would be stuck with trawler boats which were smaller, making it dangerous for the fisherman to venture further away from the shore.

So are trawlers really that bad?

Malaysian Nature Society (MNS) head of communications Andrew Sebastian told Theantdaily that trawling activities bring a lot of damage to the seafloor and its related ecosystems.

”It is not selective and catches everything in the nets and this results in too many by-catch, which contributes to the depletion and lower mortality rates of marine life caught in the net.”

Andrew said that this included juvenile marine life and those not intended for consumption.  “Sustainable fishing will surely help in ensuring the balance of the marine life of which our largest protein source.”

“Moving trawlers away from the fringing reefs might help conserving the nursery and breeding grounds that supplying our fish catch.”

“However it is also important for the authority to educate the fishing community on why these actions are taken and also strengthening the enforcement.”

Andrew said more awareness is needed on the general decline of fisheries. People have to look at the bigger picture and this means making adjustments and sacrifices for the sake of environmental sustainability.

He also stressed the need to protect fishing grounds such as mangroves, sea grass and coral reefs which are ecosystems in decline and under threat. “The authorities need to designate more protected areas and increase enforcement.”

Well, it looks this is indeed a delicate issue.

For years, environmental groups have spoken against trawling and its negative impacts.The government is right to implement a tough measure like this and must ensure that it enforces the ban. Without proper enforcement, the move will only be a futile exercise.

However, the government must also proceed with care in implementing the move. The concerns of the fishermen must be heeded from now and initiatives must be introduced to help them adapt to the move, be it from financial support or incentives.

By hook or by crook, the fisherman will need to work to survive, and will have no choice but to use the trawlers if they do not have the means to upgrade their boats.

All parties must work together and not wait till the last minute to initiate action.  Whatever it is, there must be no delay in implementing this partial ban on trawling. As for the public, we must be ready to make sacrifices for the sake of the environment.

We must be prepared to pay higher prices or settle for alternatives.

Everything comes at a price and if we are not ready to make some sacrifices for the environment, future generations will have to pay a higher price.

– See more at:

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s