Two illegal fishing boats, 24 Vietnamese fishermen detained off Muara Tebas

Teh (standing) questioning the Vietnamese fishermen during the press conference.

By Malcolm Lau

KUCHING, 27 July: Two illegal fishing vessels with 24 Vietnamese fishermen on board were detained by the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (APMM) at 221 nautical miles, north of Muara Tebas near here on July 24.

Sarawak APMM director First Admiral Robert Teh Geok Chuan said the arrests were made by a team during the ‘Op Naga Timur’ operation on that day at 7.30 am.

“There were 20 fishermen arrested in the first boat while another four crewmen were found in the second boat, harvesting the fishes illegally.

“All 24 of them are from Vietnam, aged between 21 to 55 years, and no documentation or permits were found on them,” Teh said during a press conference at the APMM jetty, Tun Abang Salehuddin Maritime Complex (Komtas) this afternoon.

He said APMM also seized the two fishing vessels, fishing equipment, two tonnes of various species of fishes and 19,000 litres of diesel fuel with an estimated worth of RM2.5 million.

Teh noted that all the foreigners were tested negative for Covid-19 at the Petra Jaya Clinic and they will be investigated under Section 15(1)(a) of the Fisheries Act 1985.

Meanwhile, he said during the Movement Control Order (MCO) period, there was no arrest of illegal fishing boats and APMM only conducted operations to banish them from Malaysian waters to prevent another Covid-19 cluster.

“We have expelled 13 foreign fishing vessels from netting or fishing near to the state during MCO,” he said.

He said since June 24 this year, APMM was allowed to detain illegal foreign fishing vessels and APMM Sarawak had arrested seven vessels so far.

Teh said that a total of 51 Vietnamese and five Indonesians were arrested with RM6.7 million worth of fishing vessels and equipment seized since June 24, 2020.

“We will intensify the patrol duty to prevent more illegal fishing vessels especially from Vietnam from fish netting at the sea near to the state,” he pointed out.

Members of the public are urged to contact APMM hotline at 082-432544 or MERS999  if they have any information to share regarding suspicious fishing activities.-DayakDaily