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Sabah police ready to work with community to form safe fishing zones in Esszone

KOTA KINABALU: The idea to establish safe fishing zones in Eastern Sabah Safety Zone (Esszone) can help improve maritime security and protect fishermen against armed kidnappers, said Sabah police commissioner Datuk Abdul Rashid Harun.

Rashid, who welcomed the suggestion by Semporna Fishermen Association, said the police have no problem in implementing the measure.

“If that (establishing a safe fishing zone) can be done, then it is good. Security forces will be able to monitor fishing areas.

“However, the (fishermen) associations have yet to meet and discuss the idea with me,” he said, adding that police were prepared to work with the fishing community to identify safe fishing zones for them in eastern Sabah.

Recently, Semporna Fishermen Association chairman Salleh Abdul Salleh suggested authorities to look into determining specific fishing zones to safeguard fishermen against cross-border criminals.

Salleh said this measure would allow security forces to easily control security at water areas used by fishermen and to observe their movement.

Rashid meanwhile hoped that fishermen would continue to cooperate with police in channelling information with regards to movement of suspicious boats so assets could be immediately deployed to intercept intrusion.

“I believe they (fishermen) have come across (suspicious) boats countless times but never report it to the authority.

We want the fishing community to be on board with us.

“While we are happy to note that the Eastern Sabah Security Command (Esscom) has recently intercepted three or four boats trying to sneak into Sabah waters, we want fishermen to help us in combating cross-border crime issues.”

Meanwhile, Rashid also announced the 6pm to 6am sea curfew in Esszone would be extended until Dec 13.

The curfew will enter its 55nd phase tomorrow and covers the seven districts namely Kunak, Lahad Datu, Kinabatangan, Sandakan, Tawau, Beluran, and Semporna.

Earlier, Rashid attended the closing of Fibua (fighting in built-up areas) Rapid Team training course at the State police headquarters in Kepayan here, which saw 65 police personnel, including senior officers, completing their course.

“I hope this training will further help sharpen their combat skills and police personnel are ready to face challenges particularly when they are in battle ground.”-nst

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