Only local traditional fishermen allowed to catch shrimps in Sarawak waters

Belayong (left) fields questions from reporters at the dialogue session.

MIRI: Foreign fishermen, especially Suluks, are not allowed to catch shrimps in Sarawak waters as it is clearly stated in the ‘sobor’ permit issued by the Malaysian Fisheries Department that only local traditional fishermen can catch the shrimps (bubuk) in Sarawak waters.

Its state director Belayong Nyuak said they issued the sobor permits to local fishermen to allow them to catch shrimps from March to June each year.

“Fishermen with valid boat licences can apply for the permit to catch bubuk from the department,” Belayong told local fishermen and enforcement officials during a special dialogue session held at the Fisheries Department office here yesterday.

The Suluks, who hail from southern Philippines, have since 2015 been seen catching shrimps in Sarawak waters, depriving local fishermen the opportunities to earn extra income through the sale of the crustaceans.

Sarawak Fisheries enforcement chief, here, Fairol Tajudin Suhaili and an officer of the Fisheries Department here Buniamin Kiprawi were also present at the dialogue session.

Belayong said the sobor permit was only issued to traditional fishermen from Kuala Baram to Kuala Tatau, under the zone ‘A’ category. Those in zones ‘B’ and ‘C’ are not allowed to apply for the permit.

“The fishing boats must be between six metres and 15 metre long, whith boat engines of 140hp. The fishing must only be carried out between 6am and 6pm.”

Sobor is a kind of net which is fixed to the boat used to catch the shrimps.

Last year, 709 metric tonnes of shrimps were caught compared to over 2,000mt in 2016, a sharp decline.

According to Belayong again, the department still banned beam trawls because they destroyed everything in their path including coral reefs.