Concern over unsustainable fishing practices

National 1 minute, 58 seconds

BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN

INTEREST in recreational fishing has surged in Brunei, but a fishing equipment owner has warned of unsustainable practices that threaten the marine ecosystem.

Alfred Yong, owner of Capt Fred Fishing and Marine Supply, said there has been growing interest in sport fishing over the past 10 years.

However, he raised concerns of people fishing more than they should.

“In sport fishing, it is better to release what you don’t eat, so there are more fish to catch in the future. But there are some people who catch more than they should and keep more than they should,” he told The Brunei Times on the sidelines of a fishing competition.

Yong’s company was collaborating with the Bandar Seri Begawan Municipal Department in organising the “Cabaran Johan” or fishing competition in the capital.

He said there were groups who practised “catch and release”, where fish are caught, recorded but immediately released.

Yong further said the practice of catching undersized fish might lead to depletion of fish stocks.

“There are a lot of beautiful reefs here with small fish. The problem is that if the small fish are caught, they will not grow into big fish and there will be no baby fish.That is the biggest problem.”

To control sport fishing, he suggested regulations on the number of fish a person can catch in a day, as well as the sizes of fish that can be caught.

He said the Ministry of Industry and Primary Resources’s Fisheries Department regulates fishing practices in Brunei, where sport fishing enthusiasts were required to obtain a $3 licence.

However, Yong said this was not enough, as one can “practically fish anywhere, there is no certified place. The only exception is oil rigs which is off limits”.

The fishing equipment owner said people are taking recreational fishing more seriously, using artificial bait or lures and not just simple handlines.

“The thrill is not in catching the fish but the techniques used to catch the fish,” he said.

Starting with only a shop in Plaza Athirah over a decade ago, Capt Fred Fishing and Marine Supply has now expanded with two more outlets.

Yong said he opened more stores to meet the demand for sport fishing in the country.

In 2009, Capt Fred Fishing and Marine Supply organised an international fishing competition which attracted more than 200 sport fishermen.

The Brunei Times