Overfishing in Temburong

FISHERMEN in the Temburong District are starting to realise the adverse effects of over-fishing, as river pollution and destruction of natural fish habitat takes their toll on the Temburong River.

The river, also subjected to harsh development activities and 30 years of contamination from nearby quarries, was once teeming with freshwater fish such as ikan tanai, ikan pagong-pagong, ikan ungah (Mangrove Jack),ikan tutu (Marbled Goby), ikan terusan, ikan patian, ikan tuyan and ikan luang.

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This is no longer the case as the freshwater fish population is diminishing severely due to this errant behaviour.

Yang Berhormat Hj Sulaiman Hj Ahad, the Temburong District representative, in addressing the Ministry of Industry and Primary Resources (MIPR) asked for the matter to be discussed and hopefully, a solution provided to remedy the situation.

The MIPR minister replied that the ministry in collaboration with the fisheries department are constantly monitoring the situation and identifying suitable areas for fry to be released to repopulate the river.

Yang Berhormat Pehin Orang Kaya Seri Utama Dato Seri Setia Haji Yahya Begawan Mudim Dato Paduka Haji Bakar added that the ministry is also assessing and conducting research on the habitat and hatching of freshwater fish, using an ‘in-land pond’ system that breeds the fish in a controlled environment.

The minister also said that the ministry will consider limiting or regulating fishing activity in the area to make sure that fishermen only practice proper fishing methods on the river.

Another Legislative Council member highlighted problems brought on by commercial ships and vessels such as trawlers destroying natural fish habitats.

Yang Berhormat Hj Tahamit Hj Nudin, Brunei-Muara Zone III District representative’s concerns were answered by the minister who said a private agency is currently involved in the restoration project of the fish breeding grounds, with full support from MIPR and the fisheries department as well as active involvement of divers and school students.

Reasons behind the banning of shark products implemented this year and the efficiency of the ban was also questioned in the session yesterday by YB Hj Jumat Akim, Brunei-Muara Zone IV District representative.

YB Pehin Dato Haji Yahya explained that the ban was put in place after discovering that the number of sharks in Brunei waters has decreased rapidly over time and some species even driven to extinction.

“From 1989 to 1990, there were ten shark species in the Brunei waters but in 2006, 60 per cent of those species were no longer found.

“Marine biodiversity research in coral reef fish habitats, conducted from 2008 and 2009, no longer found any sharks in the area,” the minister added.

In response to the efficiency of the ban, YB Pehin Dato Hj Yahya said that the fisheries department is constantly monitoring fish sales to ensure that sharks were not offered.

The import of processed shark products has also been banned, with monitoring from the fisheries department and the ministry of health.

“There is no proof that consuming sharks or the fins are better than the consumption of other fish. In fact there are high traces of mercury and lead found in shark fins,” YB Pehin Dato Yahya said.

The Brunei Times


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