Vietnamese fishermen arrested, RM2.5 mln worth of items seized

Vietnamese fishermen being taken into custody. Photos: Ghazali Bujang

KUCHING: The crew of two Vietnamese fishing vessels were arrested for encroaching into state waters, about 225 nautical miles north of Tanjung Po last Wednesday (Aug 12).

Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) Sarawak director First Admiral Maritime Robert Teh Geok Chuan said the arrests took place around 12.30pm when the Maritime Ship (KM) Sri Aman was carrying out ‘Ops Naga Timur’ patrol.

“The team spotted and inspected the vessels and found 20 members aboard, carrying out illegal fishing activities.

“All those detained were Vietnamese men, aged 24 to 53, and did not have any valid identification documents,” he said in a press conference on Monday (Aug 17) at the Tun Abang Salahuddin Maritime Complex (Komtas), Muara Tebas here.

First Admiral Maritime Robert Teh Geok Chuan speaks to the media.

The vessels were in the midst of pulling in their nets full of fish, and there were also fish stored in barrels.

First Admiral Teh said the total value of the seizure —the two fishing vessels, 40 tonnes of fish, a tonne of tiger barb (ikan baja) and 13,000 litres of diesel — was estimated at RM2.5 million.

The crew were then brought to the Komtas jetty and taken to Jalan Masjid health clinic to undergo Covid-19 screening, which they tested negative.

The case will be investigated under Section 15(1)(a) of the Fisheries Act 1985.

To date, MMEA has detained 10 foreign fishing vessels with a total seizure value of RM10 mln.

“Despite numerous arrests in Sarawak, Sabah, Kelantan, Terrengganu and Pahang, they (Vietnamese) still want to intrude into our waters,” he said, adding that the public should channel information to MMEA relating to such illegal activities.

First Admiral Teh stated that MMEA would use a Bombardier CL415 aircraft to carry out more extensive patrols, expected to arrive this month.