LUMUT, March 9 — The Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) has refuted allegations by Indonesian fishermen that it had encroached into Indonesian waters and seized catches from their boats.
On the other hand, Perak MMEA director Maritime captain Shahrizan Raman said Maritime Ship (KM) Malawali only chased 26 fishing boats out of the overlapping area about 25 nautical miles north-west of Pulau Jarak in the incident on January 21.
“We came across a provocation expressed in Facebook in Indonesia stating that MMEA was in Indonesian waters and seized catches from the fishermen.
“We have records and also evidence that no search was conducted on all the boats and we also drove them away using a loudspeaker and deny the accusations,” he told a media conference at the Perak MMEA headquarters here today.
Commenting further, he said that during the incident KM Malawali only summoned a skipper from a fishing boat to order him to inform the other fishing boats to leave the area but did not inspect the boats.
“KM Mawali had approached the fishermen in accordance with the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) agreed upon by both countries to co-operate in fish catching activities in the overlapping areas of Malaysia and Indonesia under Article 2 of the MOU.
“Meanwhile, under Article 3 of the MOU, the agency must use an open communication to order the fishermen suspected to have committed an offence to leave the area,” he said.
In the meantime, Shahrizan said MMEA also refuted a claim by some local fishermen that the incident resulted in Indonesian authorities harassing them when fishing in the national waters close to the international boundary.
He said this was following the seizures and towing of three local fishing boats into Indonesia by Indonesian authorities for further investigations there, when fishing in the overlapping area.
“All the boats from Hutan Melintang, Pulau Pangkor and Bagan Panchor, with Indonesian and Thai crew, were detained since early February and only one boat, namely, from Bagan Panchor, with five Thai crew, had been released and handed to KM Gagah on February 26,” he said. — Bernama