MMEA seizes boats, arrests 40 Vietnamese crewmen for illegal fishing

MMEA nabbed a total of 40 crew members for trespassing and for illegally fishing off the waters of Terengganu. — Foto Bernama
MMEA nabbed a total of 40 crew members for trespassing and for illegally fishing off the waters of Terengganu. — Foto Bernama

PUTRAJAYA, May 24 ― The Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) seized five Vietnamese fishing boats with a total of 40 crew members for trespassing and for illegally fishing off the waters of Terengganu in separate operations on May 21 and May 22.

Malaysian Maritime Operations Deputy Director-General, Datuk Mohd Zubil Mat Som, said in the first operation on May 21, three boats carrying 23 Vietnamese crew members were intercepted by KM Pekan, a Pahang MMEA vessel, while they were fishing about 100 nautical miles off Kuala Terengganu waters.

He said the boats were seized after a five-hour chase and checks on the crew, including its skipper, found that they had no valid permits and identification documents.

The following day at about 8am, KM Pekan detected another boat, with a cloned registration number of a local fishing boat, that was engaged in fishing activities about 30 nautical miles from Kuala Terengganu.

“Upon inspection, the boat with five crew members including its skipper, was believed to have used the cloned registration number because its engine number was not reflected in its licence. The boat’s vessel tracking monitoring system was also not activated,” said Mohd Zubil said in a statement yesterday. 

He said in the Ops Naga integrated operation on May 22, KM Siguntung, a Terengganu MMEA vessel intercepted a boat with 12 crew members, including its Vietnamese skipper, for trespassing and fishing about 79 nautical miles off Kuala Terengganu.

Mohd Zubil said all 40 crew members and their skippers were arrested and taken to the Terengganu MMEA jetty for further investigations.

The case is being investigated under the Fisheries Act 1985 and the Immigration Act 1959/63. ― Bernama