Fishermen can’t afford to go to sea with steep hike in diesel price
By ONG HAN SEAN and FARIK ZOLKEPLI
KUANTAN: More than 100 trawlers were docked at the Malaysia Fisheries Development Authority complex as fishermen said they could not afford to go to sea.
Kuantan Fishery Association chairman Chia Hee Juak said this was due to the sudden increase in diesel price to RM1.80 early this month.
“Even at the previous price of RM1.25, we were only earning a profit of RM2,000 per trip.
“With this steep increase, we can't even afford to fuel up,” he said.
Kept at bay: More than 100 trawlers docked at the Malaysia Fisheries Development Authority complex in Kuantan as operators struggle to foot their diesel bill.
He added that local fishermen had to contend with Vietnamese fishermen who had licences leased to them from unscrupulous “Ali Baba” operators.
“There are not enough fishes for us in these seas anymore and those foreign fishermen are allowed to operate in our country.
“We hope the Government will take note of our frustrations.”
Kuantan Trawler Fishermen Association vice-chairman Hing Hua Kow said 70 owners had decided to sell their boats for up to RM1mil each.
“We hope the Government can buy our boats as there is no point continuing to fish because we lose about RM5,000 to RM6,000 each time,” he said.
In Kuala Terengganu, Agriculture and Agro-based Industries Minister Datuk Seri Noh Omar said the ministry needed the cooperation of all parties to curb the activities of “Ali Baba” trawler operators who leased their licences to foreigners who fished in Malaysian waters.
“We need the cooperation of the affected fishermen as well as others to provide sufficient proof of such activities,” he told The Star.
He was commenting on MCA president Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek's call on the Government to look into the “Ali Baba” problem.
Meanwhile, Noh said the proposed insurance coverage for fishermen was expected to be introduced by August, subject to Cabinet approval.
“It will cost about RM10, which will be deducted from the monthly allowance given to the fishermen.
“We expect some 70,000 fishermen in the country to be covered,” he said.
He added that the insurance benefits included coverage for natural disasters, life insurance and disability due to accidents while working.