Overview of the national fisheries situation with emphasis on the demersal fisheries off the west coast of Peninsular Malaysia

The marine fisheries sector in Malaysia contributes significantly to the national economy in terms of income, foreign exchange and employment. In 1999, marine fisheries contributed 1.245 million t (90% of total fish production) valued at US$1.18 billion. The total value accounted for about 1.53% of national GDP and 11.31% of agricultural GDP. The export of fish and fishery products amounted to about US$210 million. The sector provided employment to about 80 000 fishers. Fisheries management is currently guided by the Third National Agricultural Policy (NAP3 1998 - 2010). The NAP3 aims to maintain the coastal fisheries production while increasing the production from deep-sea fisheries within Malaysia’s Exclusive Economic Zone and the high-seas. Fisheries management of fisheries is centralized and is the primary responsibility of the Department of Fisheries. The key challenges identified for Malaysian fisheries are overfishing, excess fishing capacity and ensuring the well-being of coastal fishing communities. These are issues across the whole of Malaysia. The West Coast of Peninsular Malaysia produces 44% (1997) of total marine landings and 86% of this came from commercial (large scale) vessels. The landings in 1997 exceeded the estimated MSY and the biomass of demersal species in the region has been severely reduced. A national consultative workshop identified the primary aims for this region to improve production and efficiency of the fisheries, equitable distribution of the benefits, resources sustainability and the viability of the fishing communities. The workshop also identified key interventions needed. In terms of production and efficiency, overfishing and overcapacity must be addressed, including the illegal fishing. In terms of achieving greater equity, the workshop suggests greater involvement of small scale fishers in marketing of the catch. For resource sustainability, the serious decline in biomass must be addressed but there are also significant cross-sectoral issues. To achieve viable fishing communities, the workshop suggests the need for greater involvement and potentially a co-management approach for fisheries management.


Ahmad, A.T., Tan, Geik-Hong, Yasin, A.H. (2003)
p. 833-884. Assessment, management and future directions for coastal fisheries in Asian countries. WorldFish Center conference proceedings; 67