KOTA KINABALU, Dec 4 — The devolution of deep-sea fisheries licensing powers to the Sabah government can boost the industry in the state, said Minister of Agriculture and Food Industries Datuk Seri Dr Ronald Kiandee.
He said the devolution of power from the Director-General of Fisheries to the Director-General of Fisheries Sabah, among others, would enable the Sabah Fisheries Department to determine vessel licences to be issued according to the total catch capacity such as in the Sulu Sea, South China Sea and Sulawesi Sea.
He said it starts with the receipt of applications, auditing, evaluation, approval of applications until issuing permits and licences for vessels and marine fishing equipment in Zone C2, subject to the conditions set jointly.
“Sabah’s fishing industry has high development potential and should be further expanded as Sabah currently has 30,486 fishermen who produce a total of 206,703 metric tonnes of fish per year with a value of more than RM1.2 billion.
“MAFI (the Ministry of Agriculture and Food Industries) is also always ready to hold engagement sessions with the state government so that the Sabah fisheries sector management is taken into account in the proposed improvements to the Fisheries Act 1985 which will be implemented after the study on improvements is finalised,” he said.
He said this to reporters after attending a briefing of the Special Council on the 1963 Malaysia Agreement at the State Legislative Assembly Building here today.
Also present were Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (Sabah and Sarawak Affairs) Datuk Seri Dr Maximus Ongkili, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (Parliament and Law) Datuk Seri Dr Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar, and Sabah Chief Minister Datuk Hajiji Noor.
Ronald said that on Oct 18, the Special Council meeting on the 1963 Malaysia Agreement chaired by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob had agreed to authorise the directors of the Sabah and Sarawak Fisheries Departments to issue permits and deep-sea licences for Zone C2 fishing vessels.
He said that this devolution of powers would enable Sabah to implement both existing and new policies related to fisheries management that are appropriate to the needs of the fisheries industry in Sabah in accordance with international fisheries management norms.
Meanwhile, Hajiji said the Sabah state government fully supported the proposal to amend the Federal Constitution to enable it to be in line with the provisions in the 1963 Malaysia Agreement.
“The bill to amend the Federal Constitution is the result of discussions at the Special Council meeting on the 1963 Malaysia Agreement which took into account requests from Sabah and Sarawak,” he said. — Bernama