The state of Terengganu is seeking to make it a protected park.
But Harun’s catch is increasingly unpredictable, averaging about US$2,000 per week gross, leaving little left over after all crew are paid, and fuel, maintenance and other costs are deducted.
“Each year, the catch has reduced. But I’m not good at anything else, so I still have to do this,” said his son and apprentice Zuraini.
Malaysia ranks among the top consumers of seafood in the world.
Intergovernmental industry researchers Infofish say Malaysians eat an average of 56.5kg of seafood per person annually, more even than Japanese.
The global average is 20kg.
WWF-Malaysia chief Dionysius Sharma said overfishing threatens to leave Malaysian waters “vast and barren.”
The organization warns Malaysia’s waters could run out of seafood by 2048.
Despite the long odds, Zuraini, 44, said someday he will train one of his own sons.
“I don’t want to see this practice die off,” he said.