Labuan stepping up ops against illegal foreign fishing boats
Published on: Saturday, April 20, 2019

LABUAN: The Labuan Fisheries Department is stepping up operations against the continuous presence of illegal foreign fishing boats and trawlers, especially from Vietnam, in Labuan waters.

Its director, Faizal Ibrahim Suhaili said the illegal operations by foreign fishermen had not only affected the local fishing industry but could also incur revenue losses to the government.

“In an integrated operation with marine police this week from April 15 to 18, we managed to nab 13 Vietnamese fishermen in two wooden boats which encroached into our waters and seized 150 kg of various marine catch,” he said.

Among the areas covered by the surveillance and control efforts were Labuan waters including the popular deep-sea fishing site of Semarang, emerging dive site of Vernon Bank, Menumbok, Weston and Sipitang in Sabah and Awat-Awat in Lawas district, Sarawak.   

The Agriculture and Agro-Based Industry Ministry last year disclosed that the government had estimated a loss of RM6 billion each year due to illegal fishing activities by foreign boats and trawlers.

Of the total, RM1.8 billion in losses were estimated from illegal deep-sea fishing and the remaining RM4.2 billion from illegal inshore fishing.

“We are working together with the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) and Marine Police to ensure we will not continue to lose our marine resources to foreign fishermen,” he said at the news conference after launching the Labuan Fisheries Department’s Engagement Programme.

A total of 256 foreign vessels, especially from Vietnam, with some RM180 million worth of catch onboard were seized since 2016 to date.

The ministry reminded Malaysian owners not to lease their vessels to foreign fishermen for illegal fishing or they could have their fishing licence discontinued.

On unscrupulous Malaysian businessmen appearing to be working with foreign fishermen by leasing their deep-sea fishing licence, he said it was unethical.


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