| James Kon |
IN AN effort to ensure the marine fisheries industry is sustainable as well as preserve the various marine species in the country’s waters, Brunei Darussalam will establish Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) in three coastal locations that will be enforced next year.
The three areas, which fishermen are prohibited from operating within and are also known as ‘no take zones’ are at Pilong Rock as well as the Champion and Ampa platforms.
The protected areas were revealed by the Head of Fishing Capture Development Division, Matzaini bin Hj Juna, in his presentation entitled ‘Towards Sustainable Source of Fisheries’ at a dialogue session held in conjunction with Farmer, Fisherman and Breeders Day 2014, which was attended by the Acting Director of Fisheries Department, Abdul Halidi bin Mohd Salleh.
Matzaini explained that the role of the MPAs is to safeguard pools of fishes that are needed to grow for breeding purposes to increase dwindling fish supplies. He added that overfishing is what led to this problem.
Statistics from 2001 to 2009 show a staggering increase of fishermen using equipment such as net trawlers where 304 units in operation in 2001 has increased to 1,534 units in 2009. In addition, other local fishing gear such as bubu, lintau, pukat kambura and ancau has increased in usage.
He also listed irresponsible practices being utilised such as using explosives, which severely damage coral reefs and fishing grounds, using poisons and harpoons to catch fish, as well as seabed trawling.
Meanwhile, in a separate presentation on the Fisheries Order 2009, the Head of Management and Surveillance Division, Zul Faisal bin Hj Saherin, explained that “The Fisheries Order 2009, is meant to consolidate the law on fisheries, fishing, fish processing, marketing, distribution and any related matters.”
He revealed that it is an offence under Chapter 31 of the Fisheries Order 2009 to use, try to use or possess explosives, poisons, or any prohibited fishing gear such as harpoon guns. Under Chapter 37, enforcement officers have the power to issue compounds of not more than $1,000, as well as seizing fishing equipment and fishes caught with such equipment. Under Chapter 39 and 40, if an individual is charged but not found guilty in the court, he or she can still face a fine of not more than $10,000, imprisonment of not more than a year or both. Under Chapter 27, fishermen are prohibited from fishing or removing live fish as well as aquatic flora and fauna from the MPAs.
Prohibitions also exist to prevent photographs or filming of the sound of aquatic life as well as building and installing cables, pipelines, underwater lines or structures in these areas. He also highlighted that there are no restrictions on vessels passing through these protected areas.
In attendance for the presentation were officials in the fisheries industry and members of the Legislative Council.