Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Why fish bombers escape the law

It is just sad, isn't it?

People continues to flout the law at the expense of fellow humans and the environment, and walk away scot-free.

Image: DE - Mar 23, 2011
While killing of sharks isn't a crime as fish is one of the long list of consumables in our dietary,  it is disheartening to  learn that people kill them and throw their bodies back into the sea.

Fish bombing is a crime in Malaysia and some of the key legislation outlawing fish bombing are the Explosives Act 1957, Fisheries Act 1985, and Sabah Parks Enactment, 1984.

But fish bombers tend to escape the law, every time.

How so?

Captain Maritime Amir Azwa Mohd Alias, the Operation Director of Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) thinks that legal loopholes made it hard for enforcers to charge fishermen using explosive device in court (Daily Express, March 12, 2012).

Despite MMEA's officers' certainty that they were real culprits, they (the culprits) would be able to walk free due to insufficient evidence presented in court. They would bomb and let someone else pick up the catch, and the guys who collect the dead fish would claim their innocence and say they were only picking the catch and knew nothing of any explosives.

Review Maritime Law to give it more bite

Since MMEA's inception in Feb 16, 2007, it has now expanded nation-wide and currently, MMEA Sabah has about 709 officers and members Statewide with 209 of them placed in Kota Kinabalu with much of their assets coming from Royal Malaysian Navy, Marine Police, Customs and Fisheries Department.

With that number of officers in Kota Kinabalu alone, I think the agency is well equipped in terms of manpower. With 209 personnel they can have at least 10 enforcement teams working round the clock, not necessarily on the look for fish bombers only.  Talk about rescue, enforcement of maritime laws to nab smugglers, illegal immigrants and other offenses.

From 2007 to January this year, MMEA has caught a total 962 maritime offenders and conducted a total 11,187 checks on boats and vessels statewide. The followings are statistics given by MMEA on its hauls since inception:

Data source: DE - Mar 12, 2012

Exactly, what sort of revision to the maritime law is needed then? One example is by giving the law more power in enforcing the banning of fish caught using fish-bombs. Procedure could be streamlined and made easy to implement. Provide modern, powerful tools to easily detect such catch. Provide trainings for the relevant personnel - technical and motivation wise.

Other measures and activities

  1. Holding regional symposium on Anti Fish Bombing, such as one held recently in Kota Kinabalu and attended by many stake holders.
  2. Share experience gained from other countries and adapt it to the local scene, when feasible.
  3. Involve the local communities. The more the communities are being involved, the more cooperative they will be to the government initiative.
  4. Conduct campaigns to create awareness, and do this on a regular basis; not seasonal.
  5. Perhaps, it is a good idea to recruit officers from the problematic waters. Note: A study will still need to be done though.

What can you and me do?

Simply put, don't eat fish caught using fish-bomb. Similar to fish preserved with formaldehyde, there are tell tales of fish caught with bomb. Ask around. People close to the fishing industry knows more than you think.


Miss. Tina said...

That is the very sad part of our people. I wish there will be more strict in law enforcement to prevent these un-healthy scenario from keep going on.

de engineur said...

I think we can do our part by not buying fish caught using fish bomb. The challenge is to identify them, though.