Illegal boat operators: Checks find anglers not wearing safety vests

NURADZIMMAH DAIM and NOOR HIDAYAH TANZIZI


LUMUT: A spot check conducted by the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) recently revealed that none of the fishermen and anglers wore lifejackets that were available on board.

An avid angler told his fear would quickly turn into excitement as soon as he struck a bite and reeled in a fish.

The man, who wanted to be known as Akram, 25, said, here, anglers would flock in waters around Pulau Sembilan normally as it was a famous fishing spot.

“This is my fourth trip and I have not been wearing a life jacket as it restrict my movements.

“The boat skipper did ask us to wear it, though,” he said during the spot check.

“When the weather gets bad, we would head for the nearest island for shelter until the sky clears up.

“My friends and I paid RM700 for a 12-hour boat trip and were brought to this fishing spot near Pulau Sembilan,” he said.

Checks revealed that life jackets were placed in a plastic bag at the boat’s storage area.

During the rounds, MMEA officials also briefed the boat operators and their guests on the importance of adhering to safety rules while in open sea and they were let off with a warning.

A boat skipper who wished to be identified as Ahmad, 29, said it was difficult to get people to wear life jackets.

“However, I made it mandatory when I’m operating the boat and refuse to leave the jetty until everyone complies.

“They have no choice but to do so, or they could not go on the trip.

“I have been doing this for four years and there has been no untoward incident when I am at the helm,” said Ahmad, who also loved fishing. He said there were about 100 boat owners around Lumut who also offered the same service to tourists.

A boat trip to Pulau Sembilan and Pangkor would cost passengers between RM600 and RM700, while those going to Pulau Jarak would pay between RM1,500 and RM1,600 for a six-passenger boat.