Sustainable Fishing in Sarawak


Balancing Sustainability with Self Preservation

The ecological situation across the globe has scientists scratching their heads for solutions to problems like climate change, overpopulation and resource depletion. Over-harvesting of resources is a particular concern because it places the ecosystem at risk. In areas like Sarawak, where rural communities still rely on naturally obtained resources for sustenance and income, over-harvesting is a serious problem. Locals feel that they have no choice but to over-harvest, or perish. Even though placing the ecology in danger will have a disastrous knock-on effect on their ability to subsist in the long term. They are often not aware of the impermanence of what currently appears to be abundant resources.

Geared to protect Mother Nature and her inhabitants

The Forestry Corporation of Sarawak introduced a system aimed at fish conservation. Named the ‘Tagang’ system, it has already achieved substantial success in Sabah. The word ‘tagang’ can be literally translated to ‘to stop’. The idea is to bring an end to overfishing by introducing a systematic way of harvesting fish that will not compromise the delicate balance of the ecosystem.

The Tagang system

The Deputy general manager of the Sarawak Forestry Corporation, Oswald Braken Tisen explained to the media that the Tagang system allows fishes a chance to breed by implementing a methodical harvesting. Strict regulations and rules govern all fishing – is only allowed to take place at certain times in designated zones. The area is divided into three zones: the Red Zone, the Yellow Zone and the Green Zone.

• The Red Zone is off-limits for fishing as it covers the main source of the river, the usual breeding ground for fish. Waterfalls are included in the Red Zone.
• The Yellow Zone is where the main source of the river intersects with another. Fishermen are allowed to fish in these areas once or twice every year.
• The Green Zone consists of other intersections and fishing activities in these areas are determined by the Tagang committee. The committee is made up of local Penans.

The zoning restrictions may be strict, but it will ultimately result in the rivers being repopulated and ensure long-term yield.

Launching Tagang in Sarawak

The Tagang system forms part of the SFC Wildlife Monitoring and Rescue (WIMOR) operation. It was created with the specific intention of improving conservation in the area. The system addresses biodiversity issues like the loss of breeding and spawning ground, fish migration barriers and the loss of natural habitat. It also creates awareness of the potential damage that can be done to the ecology, even when there is no malicious intent. Dautk Len Talif Salleh, the assistant minister of Resource Planning and Environment spoke about other locations where the system is practiced successfully. As many as 77 areas in the state practice the ‘Tagang’ system in a wonderful collaboration between locals and government agencies. Len, together with the Penan community officially launched the system in Sarawak in June 2015 by releasing 2,500 fish into Sungai Lekasi


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