Seas and Shores


Malaysia’s long coastline of around 4 810 km lends itself well to catch and aquaculture fisheries. Malaysian waters comprise 50,000 km2 of shelf areas (<200 m depth) and 418,000 km2 of deep seas within its Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) (Tai 2014) Although palm oil is the largest contributor to agriculture, fisheries is the next most important sector and Malaysia is 92.6% self-sufficient in fish production according to data in the 11th Malaysia Plan. In 2003, fish constituted 60-70% of the national animal protein intake (45.1 kg consumed per capita per year in 2009; Ministry of Agriculture and Agro-based Industry Malaysia 2010). The main fisheries authority at federal level is the Ministry of Agriculture and The Department of Fisheries Malaysia collects the Annual fisheries statistics. In 1997, the fisheries sector contributed 1.57% to Malaysian GDP, and it provided employment for more than 79 000 fishermen and 20 000 fish farmers. Catch Fisheries Chong 2007 FAO
The marine catch fishery is the main supplier of fish to the Malaysian market, with total landings of 1.63 million tonnes in 2011, of which 84% were food fish and 16% so-called “trash fish” (Tai 2014). The main landing places in Malaysia are located along the coasts of Peninsular Malaysia, Sabah, Sarawak and the Federal Territory of Labuan; in the Straits of Malacca, South China Sea and Sulu Sea. Around Peninsular Malaysia, productivity of finfish and shrimp is higher in the western than eastern waters (Chong 2007). Marine capture fisheries consist of coastal/ inshore fisheries and deep-sea fisheries. Coastal/ inshore fishing is the most important sector (89% total marine catch fisheries in 1997), and is defined as where fishing vessels operate within 30 nautical miles of the coastline. Fishing vessels range from traditional to commercial vessels <70 Gross Register Tonnage (GRT). Deep sea fishing vessels operate outside the 30km zone in larger vessels (>70GRT) and use commercial gear.

Completion Requirements

  • Explore all topic, themes and concepts
  • Read the core texts identified in the Books section

Learning Outcomes

  • Understand how and why the marine fisheries catch is important to Malaysia
  • Develop awareness of the relative importance of marine catch and aquaculture in Malaysia
  • Recognise the importance of marine ecosystems such as coral reefs and mangroves as important natural resources for Malaysia


  • As advised


  • Chong VC (2007). Mangroves-fisheries linkages—the Malaysian perspective. Bulletin of Marine Science, 80(3), 755-772.
  • Chou LM. (2000) Southeast Asian Reefs-Status update: Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Viet Nam. Status of coral reefs of the world 117-129.
  • Davies RWD, Cripps SJ, Nickson A, and Porter G. Defining and estimating global marine fisheries bycatch. Marine Policy 33, no. 4 (2009): 661-672.
  • FAO, UNEP. (1981). Tropical Forest Resourcess Assesment Project, Forest Resources of Tropical Asia. FAO, UNEP, 475 pp.
  • Harborne A, Fenner D, Barnes A, Beger M, Harding S and Roxburgh T. (2000). Status report on the coral reefs of the east coast of Peninsula Malaysia. Report Prepared to Department of Fisheries Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
  • Sani, S. (1998) The Encyclopedia of Malaysia. Volume 1. The Environment. Archipelago Press.
  • Tai, SY (2014) Food and wealth from the seas: health check for the marine fisheries of Malaysia.
  • Yurimoto T. (2013) Development of Blood Cockle Aquaculture Management Techniques in Malaysia.

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