The government is not into conservation practices unless there is publicity involved.
When WWF speaks of the plight of the Sumatran Rhino, we announce that we have breeding programs of international standards, etc, etc...........so much so that all captive breeding rhinos dies at the Melaka Zoo which incidentally is run by the Jabatan Perhilitan!
Coming back to our fisheries, a few things come to mind:
Close Season and catch limits
There is no close season, catch limits, etc! The fishermen are allowed to catch as much as they can! If not for the monsoon season, there would not be any chance for the fish to propagate at all! Our fisheries must be given a chance to recuperate from the daily onslaught of nets, bombs, cyanide, etc.
There is no enforcement in relation to size of nets used. How do you expect fish fingerlings to escape the nets when the mesh is only 1 inch? Without the fingerlings, there is no next generation of fishes!
If you go to any fish farm, you would see trawler boats delivering “thrash fish” for feeding the farmed fishes. Look closely and you will see various species of fishes measuring from fingerling to juvenile sizes ready for the crusher. And these deliveries are everyday!
Remember 2 years ago when the Government insisted that the prawn fishermen use nets that have a bigger mesh size? The fishermen called for a boycott and the Government backed off!
Our so called no fishing zones are a joke. We see nets strung like badminton nets all over the rivers and lakes in Kenyir, Temenggor, Chenderoh or even some not so famous bodies of water all over Malaysia! Juvniles and adults alike are caught in these nets as they swim towards feeding or spawning grounds. How often can they escape capture?
Fish bombs are just as destructive. Blowing up fish habitat to get at the fishes is a no-brainer! It is a one time affair as without the habitat, there would not be any fish hanging around. Fish bombers should be tried as terrorist for possessions of explosive materials!
Licensed to harvest and destroy
What about trawler boats? These guys sweep the sea bed with 2 huge pieces of heavy metal plates. Anything that stands in its way would be destroyed! Coral beds and fish habitats that took centuries to form are gone in an instant! No habitat = no fish propagation!
We even see trawler boats within 2 nautical miles from land doing their dirty business. I remember a couple of years ago, our MFN member did snap a photo of such an incident and reported it to the Fisheries department! The best part was the answer came back that they were allowed to operate there!
The interesting part is that Malaysia is still allowing trawler boats to operate whereas they are banned in most parts of the world! Even Indonesia has banned trawler boats! Is our government ignorant of the destruction caused by the trawler boats or they have some grandiose plans that we lowly mortals are not aware of?
The heavy metal plates of the trawl net destroys all fish habitats as it sweeps the sea bed.
What can we lowly anglers do
So what can we the anglers do?
We can practice Catch & Release; we do not have to take everything we catch and wind up playing postman distributing the fishes around the neighbourhood! Especially so when we know that species is over fished or threatened.
If indeed we wish have the fish for personal consumption, practice bag limits! Self imposition is not an idiot act! We might get laughed at but we know we are right in doing so!
Practice ethical fishing where we do not employ long lining or stinger hooks. The use of circle hooks increases the chances of survival of a fish when it is released. Use a landing net and not a gaff! Nobody can say that he can gaff a fish below the lips everytime; especially when the boat is rocking!
Do not use give in to ego and use a low weight class line to play the fish. The longer it takes to land the fish, the higher the chances of it dying in the water!
Protect the fish habitats. Do not drop anchor over coral beds and other natural structures. By doing so, we destroy the fish habitats.
Do not pollute the waters by throwing in garbage, used lines, etc. One major contributor of pollution is the discharge of engine oil or other effluents into the waters. This is a guarantee to killing off part of the food chain!
Feeble as it may seem; if we all do our part as responsible anglers, there is hope for our fisheries yet!
The bigger picture will be to get the Government to look real hard on conservation of our natural resources; not just the kind that brings in revenue but the kind that benefits ALL Malaysians!
RM100mil to make Kenyir a tourist draw
It was recently reported that the Terengganu State Government would be pumping in RM 100 million to make Tasik Kenyir a tourist attraction. Among the proposals were:
- a 40 seater jet boat tour of the lake
- construction of a cable car line
- construction of a theme park
- creating an orchid garden
- setting up of a fruit orchard
- construction of a bird and butterfly farm
The jet boat ride is expected to be crowd-puller with the highlight being the “Shotover” where the boat makes a 360-degree spin at full throttle.
Why is it that our Government officers ALWAYS think that tourist choose a destination because of it has all the creature comforts of home? Has it ever occurred to them that the tourists are seeking an escape from their everyday lives? Have they not heard about eco-tourism where development is frowned upon and everything should be as Mother Nature intended it to be?
To have a Shotover boat in Kenyir is one of the worst ideas possible! The tranquility would be shattered by these high decibel machines not to mention the pollution from the fumes and oil discharges! Its route would also cause problems to any other water craft using the same waters as the wakes from these crafts are pretty violent.
The construction of a cable car line, theme park, orchid garden, bird and butterfly park would mean land clearing and deforestation. Hectares of century old green jungle would be destroyed; and in it's place would be hard concrete structures. And what about the discharges from drains and sewerage? Where would they be finally discharged to? NOT into the lake, I hope! The toxic chemicals from floor cleaners, dish washes and other detergents used at the theme park if discharged into the lake would alter the eco-system.
Garbage, grease and oil from restaurants and shops would also play havoc on the environment if not properly disposed off!
The setting up of an orchard would mean more land clearing. All the land clearing would cause siltation and make fish spawning next to impossible as the silt would be covering all the underwater grass and weeds. Without proper spawning grounds, the fish population would start to dwindle and perhaps die off one day.
Natural ground being replaced by concrete and premix would cause flooding as surface run-offs no longer seeps into the ground. These run-offs would instead be channeled via drains into the lake causing over flows and inundation of low lands.
The fertilisers and pesticides used at the orchards and orchid garden would flow into the lake as run offs, again altering the eco-system and perhaps killing off crustaceans and other lower life forms pertinent to the food chain.
In my opinion, there are better ways to use the RM 100 million to improve Tasik Kenyir. Among them are:
- to construct low density chalets and boat houses at selected locations to cater for accomodations
- provide proper boat transportation around the lake using environmentally friendly methods
- provide training and employment of the Orang Asli community to act as guides
- restock the lake with indigenous species of fishes
- relocate/remove all fish farming activities that does not cater to indigenous species
- proper and adequate enforcement of laws to prevent logging and poaching
- rehabilitate areas damaged by logging and mining
In my opinion, if the proposals are to be carried out; I am sure Lake Kenyir would be worst off then it is now as the many species of flowers, plants and species of fish would be mere statistics of what Kenyir used to be.