Gov't plans to make installing AIS on Class B trawlers compulsory

KUALA SELANGOR: The government plans to make it compulsory to install the Automated Identification System (AIS) on class B trawlers, as about 50%, or 1,315 boat owners have yet to install the equipment even though it had been given to them free of charge.

Agriculture and Agro-based Industry Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Shabery Cheek (pix) said the lax attitude of the fishermen would potentially make it difficult for enforcement or fisheries agencies to rescue them in the event of an emergency at sea.

He said the delay was probably because the owners of the boats feared to let their whereabouts at sea to be known to the relevant agencies, as they may be carrying out other 'activities'.

"I call on all class B trawler fishermen to install AIS as they have been provided free of charge, including the cost of installation. The AIS is important, as it protects the fishermen, because the data collected can be used as evidence in case of any problem.

"There are many who have yet to install it, but when they are in trouble, they look for the government ... If they still refuse to install the AIS, close its signal, or let it remain spoiled, it's a form of negligence which can make life difficult for them in the future," he told reporters after presenting living allowance to fishermen in the Kuala Selangor area, today.

Ahmad Shabery said so far, there have been six cases of local fishermen detained by foreign authorities for allegedly being in disputed territories or other countries' borders, who were freed after proof had been provided through AIS data.

He said such cases were common in Selangor waters bordering another country, as the area was still under territorial dispute.

Therefore, he urged all owners of class B trawlers to promptly install the device to avoid any untoward incidents, adding that owners of all 2,000 class C boats, who have had to purchase the device themselves at a price of RM5,000, have already installed it. — Bernama