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Illegal fishing: Another foreign vessel detained
Published on: Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Kota Kinabalu: A second foreign vessel was found carrying out illegal fishing within a week by the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) some 78 nautical miles off Pulau Balambangan, Kudat, on Sunday.

KM Arau Commanding Officer Maritime Captain Mohd Zamawi Abdullah said a detect-and-detain operation was carried out at about 9.30am following information about a Vietnamese vessel with five crew.

"The vessel, with five paperless men aged between 24 and 53, attempted to flee into international waters upon noticing MMEA personnel," he told reporters at Sepanggar Port, near here, Monday.

Inspection on the vessel found various fishes, including yellow fin tuna and swordfish, weighing a total of some 450kg, as well as several fishing equipment and squid, worth about RM300,000 to RM400,000.

Zamawi said at least 15 yellow fin tuna weighing up to 30kg to 40kg each were found.

"The crewmembers and the boat were brought to the MMEA Kota Kinabalu jetty for further investigations under Section 15(1)(a) of the Fisheries Act 1985," he said.

He added that the foreigners could be charged under Section 25(a) of the Fisheries Act 1985, which carries a fine of up to RM1 million for the skipper and RM100,000 each for the crewmembers, on conviction.

Last Tuesday, a foreign vessel with five Vietnamese crew including its skipper, aged between 30 and 36, was intercepted 46 nautical miles northwest of Pulau Mantanani, off Kota Belud.

A patrol team during "Ops Pagar Laut" intercepted the boat attempting to flee to the Philippines border at about 6pm.

Several fishing equipment such as rawai and fish caught using explosives were also seized.

Zamawi said the modus operandi of the foreign vessel is to stay at sea for about two to three months to catch fish and deliver the fish caught to a "mother ship."

"We (MMEA) will stay resilient in carrying out patrols and continuously monitor the waters from time to time to prevent any illegal maritime activities," he said, adding that although the "Ops Pagar Laut" would end on June 30, the agency will not stop carrying out their duties.

Since the operation began on May 22, MMEA has carried out 45 inspections with three arrests, two of them carried out by KM Arau involving two Vietnamese boats. - Jeremy S Zabala

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