KUALA TERENGGANU, April 28 — There was drama aplenty — warning shots and high-speed chase — when the Terengganu Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) detained six Vietnamese fishing boats with 63 crew members, including the skippers, within two days of its operation.
Its director, Maritime Capt Muhammad Suffi Mohd Ramli said four of the boats were detained on Thursday between 7.30am and 4pm about 141 to 153 nautical miles east of Kuala Terengganu, near the state oil exploration area.
Another two boats, he said, were detained at 1.20pm and 1.55pm on Friday at 51 and 53 nautical miles east of Kuala Terengganu where they were fishing using the trawling method.
Two of the boats detained on Friday were also believed to have been cloned using local registration numbers.
“Our operation to nab the first four boats was quite challenging as the Pekan Maritime boat had to chase them for nearly two hours before detaining them and towing them back to the Kuala Terengganu Maritime Jetty.
“Apart from that, warning shots were also fired as the Vietnamese fishermen refused to stop their boats despite being told to do so,” he told a press conference at the Terengganu Maritime Headquarters here today.
All 63 Vietnamese, aged between 15 and 59, were taken to court today to obtain the remand order against them while the value of the six boats, the 3,000 kilogrammes of catch, 1,300 fish fertiliser, 7,000 litres of diesel as well as fishing equipment was estimated at RM6 million.
Muhammad Sufi also said that they found a diary containing the names of maritime ship assets frequently conducting patrols in the South China Sea.
“These names were written in Vietnamese, but we had personnel on board who could read them and this was a shocking discovery,” he said.
From January to April this year, 32 out of the 533 vessels inspected by the MMEA were detained, with the seizures amounting to RM32 million and the fines totalling RM2.3 million. — Bernama