Vietnamese fishing boat, 16 crews detained


KUCHING: The Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) seized a Vietnamese fishing boat for encroaching into Malaysian territorial waters.

MMEA Sarawak director Zin Azman Md Yunus said the fishing boat was seized by MMEA at a distance of about 250 nautical miles northeast of Tanjung Po, at 7.14am, last Monday (Aug 23).

He said the arrest resulted from complaints from the local fishing community on the intrusion of greedy Vietnamese fishermen disguised as locals by using fake local registration numbers in several locations in Sarawak waters.

“While carrying out routine monitoring and patrolling under Ops Khas Kuda Laut and Ops Permai around 6.30am last Monday, Bijak Maritime ship detected a suspicious boat with a local registration number. However, based on the physical structure of the boat, it was suspected to be a Vietnamese fishing boat,” he said on Thursday (Aug 26).

Zin Azman said the Vietnamese fishing boat tried to escape when approached by the authorities and steered the boat aggressively to ram the right side of the Bijak Maritime ship, only to be chased down within 30 minutes of the engagement.

“Inspection and search found that the boat did not have any documents and a license to carry out fishing activities in Malaysian waters.

“Sixteen crew members, including a Vietnamese skipper aged between 19 and 53 years, also failed to submit any valid identification documents when inspected,” he said.

The boat and crew members were escorted to the Komtas Vessel Detention Centre for further investigation, he said, adding that fishing equipment and 10,000 litres of diesel fuel were also confiscated, estimated to be worth RM1 million in total.

“The case will be investigated under the Fisheries Act 1985 as well as the Immigration Act 1959/63.

“If convicted, the skipper can be fined up to RM6 million, while the crew can be fined up to RM600,000 each and the vessel forfeited to the Malaysian government.

“All crews also underwent Covid-19 screening as a precautionary measure upon arrival at the jetty,” he added.

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