February 20, 2004
Malaysia To Set Up Modernized Fishermen Consortium
In a bid to modernize the country's aquaculture sector and improve fishermen's standard of living, Malaysia will set up a fishermen consortium to keep in line with the lucrative industry, Agriculture Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin said Thursday.
He said the consortium would merge all interest parties in the fisheries sector with the navigational skills as the basis to the economic development and fisheries business.
"However, detailed information on the consortium is still being studied but in principle we have agreed to set up the consortium when the membership is adequate.
"We're opening the membership to all interested parties in the fishing industry because we want to modernise the fisheries sector and take care of the fishermen's welfare," he told reporters after opening a development programme for navigators.
Forty-five trainees from throughout the country have been selected for the one-year course at the Chendering Fisheries Institute.
Muhyiddin said the setting up of the consortium was in line with the contributions of the fisheries sector which was poised to emerge as a major contributor to the development of the agriculture sector.
At present, the country produced RM5.7 billion worth of fisheries products and the output is expected to touch RM11.2 billion in 2010, contributing a surplus in foreign exchange worth RM4 billion a year by that year.
"It's very clear the fisheries sector today is not like before when fishermen are labelled as poor but with the measures taken by the government, fishermen can earn lucrative income.
"We want to emulate the fishermen in Japan and other foreign countries where they are rich as they are clever in using the technology. Our fishermen must also do likewise," he said.
Earlier, in his speech, Muhyiddin said Malaysia was still facing shortage of trained fishermen, especially in deepsea fishing, whilst the technology in that field was developing fast.
At present, 10,000 foreigners are working as fishermen on Malaysian fishing boats while foreigners have fully monopolised the tuna fisheries sector, he said.
"The country's capacity to increase fish landing depends on the navigators' ability to acquire the technology in the aquatic culture system.
"About 1,500 trained navigators are needed to fill the vacancy.
"As such, the Navigators' Development Programme implemented by the Fisheries Department must be carried out in a package with the cooperation of the various agencies under the ministry.
"I suggest the programme be expanded to Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia (SPM) holders via the Cadetship Scheme. There must be cooperation with the relevant authorities to get suitable candidates," he said.
He also announced the setting up of the Malaysian Fishing Skippers and Crew Association (FISCA) to accord recognition to the various jobs in the fisheries sector to protect their interests.