BINTULU: The Malaysian Fisheries Development Authority (LKIM) state director Razaili Gapor (pictured left) said he still received complaints about some fishermen who misuse their subsidised fuel and fuel rebates meant to motivate them to work harder.
“Some use their fuel for non-important things instead of catching more fish.
“This situation will slowly make them lazier and then they refuse to go to sea,” said Razaili to some 500 members of Bintulu Area Fishermen’s Association during their 29th annual general meeting at Regency Plaza Hotel yesterday.
The event was officially opened by assistant District Officer Alex Liau who represented the District Officer Bujang Budin.
He said the government would not hesitate to act against those found guilty misusing their fuel.
According to him, the government allocated around RM20 million worth of diesel per month to Sarawak alone with Bintulu receiving RM1.4 in subsidies per month.
“With a rebate of RM200 for each registered fisherman, I hope fishermen would use the money wisely and if possible keep the money for their children’s future especially for educational purposes,” said Razaili.
He pointed out that a rebate receiver should not feel very secure as the allocation can be stopped at any time depending on various factors.
Razaili said various pre-requisites needed to be considered by the government whether to prolong the assistance or stop it.
Based on LKIM records, there are 2,381 registered fishing boats in the state, but many have not declared their catch.
Thus he urged the operators of these vessels to make their declarations at the LKIM complex and also at the local fishermen association office.
“We have more than enough fishermen and resources but we still fail to meet the market demand here and as a result we have to import fish from outside,” he said.
On LKIM’s part, he said it is committed to change and improve the livelihood of fishermen in the state.
“Our fishermen can become successful businessmen, so I urge all fishermen here to work closely together with their association.
“The association on the other hand also needs to plan projects for its members and not depend on just one activity, which is catching the fish,” he said.
As for fishermen’s families, he said they could help to improve their lives by processing fish and generally adding value to their basic products.
Razaili also urged fishermen’s associations in the state to give full cooperation to LKIM so that every activity planned by the government could be implemented effectively.
“The government is committed to improving the living standard of fishermen. So if fishermen organise themselves into associations, it would be much easier for them to improve their lives as they would function as big groups.
He said it’s time for them to change the people’s perception of their profession, that is, that the majority of fishermen are poor.
“By getting into business the negative perception can be altered,” he said.