Plan to cut losses due to illegal fishing

National 2 minutes, 59 seconds

BELAIT

THE Department of Fisheries has announced a series of national and regional enforcement initiatives to curb losses due to illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing (IUUF) in the country. At the same time, regulations for marine reserves and parks under the Fisheries Order 2009 as well as the ban on the catch and landings of sharks will be fully enforced in 2015.

Acting Director of Fisheries under the Ministry of Industry and Primary Resources (MIPR), Abd Halidi Mohd Salleh said that the department would be stepping up enforcement in Brunei waters in 2015 to stave off the economic losses experienced so far.

The Sultanate’s fishing industry suffers significant losses to IUUF activities, haemorraghing $19 million to illegal fishing last year alone.

“Regionally, we will combat foreign encroachment by supporting initiatives from the Regional Plan of Action (RPOA) to Promote Responsible Fishing Practices (under the Asia-Pacific Fishery Commission) and the Southeast Asian Fisheries Development Centre (SEAFDEC)… these include having a regional vessels record and catch documentation systems,” said Abd Halidi, who said that this would require increased joint operations with relevant departments and agencies.

Abd Halidi was speaking to The Brunei Times at yesterday’s department meeting with local fishermen in Belait as part of its annual Farmers, Livestock Breeders and Fishermen's Day celebrations.

“The department has initiated the use of licence cards to replace licence plates to show proof that the fishermen have licence to fish and this is also supported administratively to ensure veseels are registered with the Marine Department,” added Acting Senior Fisheries Officer Zul-Faisal Hj Saherin on internal measures already implemented and to be stepped up next year.

According to Zul-Faisal, statistics from various enforcement agencies over a five-year period from 2010 to 2014 recorded 235 foreign fishing vessel sightings in Brunei waters. A total of 2,529 fisheries patrols including joint operations were conducted in the same period, resulting in 98 local cases for offences including fishing without licence and fishing outside the conditions of license.

Abd Halidi also said that 2015 would see a “full enforcement” of Marine Reserve and Marine Park Regulations under the Fisheries Order 2009 as well as the ban on the catch and landings of sharks.

“Although the shark ban was enforced last year, enforcement has not yet been fully implemented. Next year, we are going to be serious about it,” he said, hinting that enforcement would crack down on existing import and sale of shark meat in Brunei markets.

Under the ban, offenders can be fined by the Department not more than $1,000 or prosecuted in court with a maximum fine of $10,000 or one-year imprisonment, or both. Meanwhile, Abd Halidi described ongoing efforts by the department towards self-sufficiency in fishing products to be a two-fold strategy of increasing commodity output and adding value to products, while also expanding production, especially with new players in aquaculture. Self-sufficiency in this sector stands above 80 per cent.

“We have four main areas in aquaculture. For example, we have taken on a major contract with Golden Corporation to run a 200ha shrimp farm in Kg Penyatang (Tutong) which will start stocking operations in January 2015. The other is the Shrimp Farming Industrial Site at Sg Paku of 40 ha,” said the Acting Director, who added that the government would remain focused on certifying more farms under the Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) scheme launched last year to improve product quality for export.

He also said that ongoing tenders for five applications for deep-sea fishing in Zone four fishing areas (45 to 200 nautical miles from the coast) would see a significant increase to existing production by 2015. Currently, only a single joint venture vessel is operating in the zone.

The Brunei Times