Minister: Fisheries sector value almost doubled in 10 years

By AFIQ AZIZ / Pic By MUD AMIN NAHARUL

The fisheries sector was valued at RM14.3 billion last year, an increase of 10.1% compared to 2016, which is about 0.8% the national gross domestic product, said Agriculture and Agro-based Industry Minister Salahuddin Ayub (picture).

He said the number has significantly increased — almost doubled — from only RM6.21 billion recorded in the last 10 years.

“It is obvious on how essential is the contribution of the fishermen in our country and it would not have happened without their sacrifice,” he said at the 33rd National Fishermen’s Association of Malaysia (Nekmat) AGM in Kuala Lumpur yesterday.

According to the Department of Statistics Malaysia, the total marine landings increased by 6.6% to 1.58 million tonnes in 2016 compared to 1.49 million tonnes in the previous year.

Nekmat president Ahmad Rudin Hussain said as of last year, the organisation recorded an RM8.2 million profit and RM815.5 million of revenue derived from its various projects.

“Our main focuses are the catching and marketing activities. It includes our project at the Department of Fisheries Malaysia processing plant in Kedah which uses Individual Quick Freezing technology,” he said.

Salahuddin said the government will continue to provide aids and facilitate the group with fuel subsidies, fish landing jetties, life insurance and living allowance to ensure their sustainability.

The living allowance programme began in June 2008, with a RM200 monthly allowance for the fishermen.

In 2015, the policy was revised; in which the allocation was given based on the fishermen zoning category — RM300 for zone A and RM250 for other zones.

The government had spent RM1.35 billion from 2008 on the scheme, benefitting about 55,000 fishermen.

“In 2017, about RM166 million was spent on the programme, while up to June 2018, RM68.6 million has been disbursed to the fishermen.

“We are studying the new mechanism to improvise the programme implementation,” he said.

On the fuel subsidy programme, Salahuddin said around 11.2 billion litres of diesel and one billion litres of petrol were subsidised to the fishermen between 2006 and 2017.

“As of 2017 alone, the total of diesel and petrol subsidies were 613.7 million litres and 84.8 million litres respectively,” he said.

In value, the government has subsidised RM267 million of diesel and RM47.1 million of petrol last year.

Meanwhile, the ministry is looking into strengthening the fisheries institutions by developing higher incomes for modern fishermen.

“We also want institutions such as Nekmat to combat middlemen issues. They need to be actively involved in the chain value and purchase directly from our fishermen,” he said.