Thursday, August 16, 2007

Many popular fish species fast disappearing

From Wee Beng Wah

Sunday June 3, 2007 The Star

KUALA LUMPUR: Your favourite fish may not be on your dining table in 10 years. Fish are becoming harder to catch and getting smaller in size.

Local freshwater and marine fish expert Prof Mohd Azmi Ambak said the depletion of some marine species was worrying.

“Land reclamation, silting, deforestation, water pollution and the disappearance of the mangrove swamps has disrupted the fish food chain and breeding patterns of some of the species.

“Global warming, the changing currents and tide patterns have also affected the marine eco-system, resulting in some species disappearing or becoming harder to find,” said Dr Mohd Azmi, a senior lecturer at Universiti Malaysia Terengganu’s Fisheries and Aquaculture Department.
He said too much fishing and poor enforcement on the use of nets had also caused many common marine species to dwindle in population.

“There is a need to act quickly to save and protect the species from total extinction. There is also a need to educate the public, including fishermen,” he said.

He said species like the short fin eel (telakai), seven finger threadfin (ikan lelauh minyak) and terubuk bengkalis spawned in the mangroves.

“With mangrove swamps being destroyed for wood or reclaimed for development, these species have disappeared,” he said.

In Penang, Fishermen Association (southern district) chairman Arshad Omar claimed that humans were responsible for the depletion of many kinds of fish.

“Trawlers are fishing wantonly. Their activities pollute the seabed, making the water murky, destroying the corals and reducing fish and prawn populations.”

The human factor, he said, was worse than the pollution factor. People are literally eating fish into extinction.

A fishmonger in Bayan Lepas, known as Ah Lim, said he had to source fish from other northern states to meet demand in Penang.

He said they could not let their customers down, especially during the festive season, when some were willing to pay RM45 per kilo for certain species.”

Related Story:Fishermen blame pollution for depleting fish population

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