(1 November 2001)

KOTA KINABALU: Gaya MP Datuk Yong Teck Lee has urged Sabah Parks to review its decision to place concrete spiked sinkesr along the seabed of the Tungku Abdul Rahman Marine park.

He feared that although the rationale behind the move in preserving fish stocks within the park area was noble, they also posed great danger to swimmers and divers.

Yong said the fishermen approached him a few days ago abount "trips" placed in the open seas outside Kota Kinabalu, especially around the Manukan, Sulug, Mamutik, Sapi and Gaya islands.

" I said i had no idea what they were and asked them to show me where they could be found."

The fishermen took Yong Wednesday morning to one site in Manukan where at least three fearsome looking spiked and hooked sinkers had ended up in shallow waters near the beach.

From serving the cause of protecting Sabah's fish stock to become a potential instrument for killing tourists wattants immediate looking into.

This happens because after being hit, fishmen find the best way to free their nets is to bring the tangled mess to shallow waters, thus leaving legacy of what Yong likened to be "undersea mines".

"The idea is to keep the fishermen away but these are dangerous structures anywhere. So whether such tactics are appropriate may need to be looked at,"he said.

"Each time fishermen got stuck, they moved the structures to the shallow water which of course becomes a danger to swimmers and picnickers," said Yong.

"The other thing is the priority is in combating fish bombing. This (spiked sinkers) is to deter fishermen using fishing nets which are the traditional way to catch fish by fishermen from Tuaran, Karambubai, Menggatal, Inanam, Likas, Petagas and Putatan. These people come here and they are all local fishermen," he said.

Sabah Parks Deputy Director, Francis Liew, said the 9,929-hectre Tungku Abdul Rahman Park, which is 85 percent marine water, was gazetted for total protection of both fish and plants.

"It is a sanctuary meant to give fish unfettered protection to breed and replenish the fish stock so that eevntually they can fan out to unprotected areas where fishermen can take what they want," he said.

"As such, it is a no-take zone and if their nets are caught in the net traps, it meabs they are fishing inside what is legally a no-take zone where people have been told for years to take nothing but photographs and leave nothing except footprints."

"Without such absolute protection, overfishing will eventually kill the entire fishing industry," he noted.

Liew said even after the park was gazetted in 1974, trawlers continued to encroach within the protected waters./

"They would come at night to dotheir business and since it was difficult for the Park to keep 24-hour watch, we decided to plant the sinkers to deter such selfish acts," he said.

Liew said the Park was forced to act this way as it was generally understood that trawling was rated even more damaging to the marine coastal habitats than fish bombing.

"While fish bombings destroy spots of coral reefs, trawlers sink their nets to the sea bottom and drag the whole sea bed for miles - breaking all the corals as they go along. These people are very selfish because they are not suppose to trawl eithin 2km of the coast."

Rosli bin Daris, 46, a father of nine from Menggatal who had been fishing the last 18 years, said there had been no less than five cases lately of their nets being ripped by the spikes.

When it happened to him again last week, he decided to voice his problem. Rosli said his ancestors had been netting fish in the area since time immemorial.

When such restrictions were imposed, they met eith sabah Parks demanding to know why they were prohibited from fishing in the area.

Rosli said he had read Park signboards which spelled out regulations prohibiting people bringing guns, that is banning hunting of wildlife and chopping trees, the collection of sea shells and fish bombing but that netting fish was not on the list.

"We did not destroy corals but they said the area was gazatted as a State park and we shouldn't be here,"Rosli said, adding he personally witnessed such sinkers being dropped into the sea.


Datuk Yong Teck Lee
Member of Parliament for P150 Gaya / State Assemblyman for N13 Likas






Pages maintained by MP Gaya Liaison Office