Fishing vessel importation “major setback” for Malaysia, local maritime association claims

Fishing boats in Kuala Terengganu, Malaysia

An association of Malaysian maritime industry players has called on the country’s government to impose restrictions on the participation of foreign shipyards in the construction and supply of new fishing vessels.

The Association of Marine Industries of Malaysia (AMIM) has stated that the initiative to replace over 50,000 locally-owned wooden fishing boats has also generated interest among shipbuilders in China and even as far as Europe.

Most of the existing wooden fishing boats in Malaysia have average hull lives of around 20 years. However, rising costs have made it increasingly difficult for essential maintenance to be carried out, thus making vessel replacement an attractive option for a number of operators.

AMIM president Soo Jee Main asserted that the participation of foreign-owned shipyards must only be considered by the government in case local yards lack the capacity to supply the needed quantity and quality of newbuild vessels.

Mr Soo added that sourcing fishing vessels from overseas would be a “major setback” for Malaysia as the country aims to become “a leading maritime nation” in its own right.

He explained that Malaysia’s indigenous shipbuilding industry dates back to the early 1900s, when the first shipyard in the country was established, and that the experience gained since then has enabled local builders to supply newbuild trawlers, fisheries research vessels, and other types of fishing vessels for both local use and export.

The AMIM has also recommended the implementation of measures such as government incentives to help encourage fishing vessel operators to source their newbuildings from local manufacture instead.

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