LAWAS: The Sarawak government has decided to allocate funds for the placing of artificial reefs in fish-rich grounds in state waters, after federal funding for the initiative appeared to have been discontinued.
Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Amar Awang Tengah Ali Hasan said these reefs will be placed in the coastal waters off Belawai later this year once the sea condition becomes more favourable.
There were many applications (to carry out the initiative) but there has been no news from the federal government yet (on funding). So the state government decided to allocate funds (for the artificial reefs), he said during the handing-over of outboard engines to local fishermen, here recently.
The ceremony saw Awang Tengah present 10 units of 15hp engines to the first batch of recipients, under a plan approved by Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg.
He said prior to the general election last year, 123 fishermen here were approved to receive the outboard engine aid by the previous federal administration.
The plan, however, was scrapped following the change in government, leaving the applicants in limbo.
I brought up the matter with the chief minister, who responded by approving state funds to continue the initiative, he said.
However, he said there was a slight delay in the disbursement of the engines as the project had to be re-tendered, but assured the remaining engines would be delivered over the next two weeks.
The recipients, he added, were approved by Lawas Area Fishermen Association and a vetting committee, and hail from Awat Awat, Sundar, Kampung Punang and Kuala Lawas.
At the same time, the deputy chief minister advised the recipients to make full use of the engines to increase their income, and warned them against selling it off for quick profit.
If you are not physically able to use the engine, at least get a relative to use it to go fishing and earn an income, he said.
Meanwhile, on the disbursement of Bantuan Sara Hidup (BSH), Awang Tengah said the Sarawak government will continue to work with Putrajaya in areas of common interest, adding that allegations it did not support disbursement of the aid was untrue.
It is irrational to obstruct aid which would benefit the people, and the issue of lack of cooperation does not arise as both the state and federal governments have the common objective of looking after the people’s welfare.
Among those present at the ceremony were Lawas MP Datuk Henry Sum Agong, Limbang Resident Ahmad Denney Ahmad Fauzi and Lawas District Officer Ladin Atok.
Source: Sarawak Government