KOTA KINABALU, July 1 — The Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) yesterday arrested five individuals from a Vietnam-registered trawler in the waters of Kudat for trespassing and having in possession 500kg of fresh sea cucumbers on the boat.

This is the second such arrest in two months and the ninth Vietnamese trawler seized this year.

“The boat and its five crew, aged between 29 and 39-years-old were arrested about 18 nautical miles east from Sibongor Laut island in Kudat at 10am.

“Neither the boat nor any of its crew members had any valid documents on them. They were immediately taken to the Kudat jetty and were handed over to investigating officers,” said MMEA Kudat division deputy director, Musa Dail.

He said the five Vietnamese fishermen will be investigated under the Fisheries Act 1985 as well as the Immigration Act 1959/63.

The amount of sea cucumbers on them could fetch some RM600,000 at current market value.

“Sabah’s waters are teeming with these sea creatures which are popular across the globe as a luxurious delicacy, believed to be nutritious.

“The high demand for sea cucumbers is the reason foreign fishermen exploit our waters illegally to gain profit,” Musa Dail added.

In May, another Vietnamese trawler with a 12-man crew were also caught in Kudat for illegally fishing for sea cucumbers.

450kg of sea cucumbers were found aboard the boat.