By Nigel Edgar
KUCHING, March 14: The 14 individuals on board the Nemo fishing boat have been released by the Indonesian authority and are on their way back to Sarawak.
Former Stampin MP Julian Tan told reporters that the owner of the boat here had just received a message from the crew that the Indonesian authority released them at about 3.30pm today.
Onboard Nemo are an Indonesian and 13 local sports fishing enthusiasts.
“We just received information from the tourist-boat crew that they are now on their way back to Sarawak. They just sent us their GPS coordinates taken off from that area. It will take between 23 and 24 hours to arrive in Kuching.
“They have been released, but as for the details or conditions, we do not know yet what happened. So, when they arrive tomorrow, we will let you know so that we can understand more and give feedback to the authorities to take the necessary action.
“Anyway, all 14 are still on board and on their way back,” Julian reiterated.
Nemo was intercepted by the Indonesian authority at 9am on March 13. They were believed to be held at Natuna Besar island, some 630km west of Sarawak in the South China Sea.
According to the Indonesian authority, the Nemo had encroached into Indonesian waters, but according to the coordinates sent by Nemo to Sarawak, it is just at the border.
Julian said whatever the dispute, it is up to Wisma Putra to determine and negotiate with the Indonesian government.
Meanwhile, Tan Kai, a political secretary to the Chief Minister, said he had arranged for a dialogue session between the boat owner and the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) today.
In a statement, he said this dialogue session was meant to give state fishermen more understanding of the sea boundaries so that they could avoid encroaching into Indonesian waters, including disputed zones.
Tan Kai also advised fishermen not to fish around the area where Nemo was intercepted for the time being. He revealed that according to an MMEA officer, the Nemo was still well within Sarawak’s boundary waters when the Indonesian authorities detained them.
He added that MMEA would seek help from the Malaysian navy base at Kota Kinabalu to increase the number of sea patrols to prevent the incident from recurring. — DayakDaily