PEKAN, April 10 — The Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) detained 12 Vietnamese fishermen on board a foreign cargo vessel for fishing illegally at about 29 nautical miles off Kuala Pahang yesterday.
Its Eastern Region maritime director, Maritime First Admiral Datuk Zulkarnain Mohd Omar said the authorities detected the suspicious-looking vessel in the area at about 9.30pm during a joint operation between the agency, Royal Malaysian Navy and the Fisheries Department.
He said checks on the Mongolian-registered vessel revealed that it did not carry a valid cargo permit.
“A further inspection led to the discovery of approximately 500kg of squids believed to be caught, stored and processed without valid permits,” he told reporters at the Kuala Pahang jetty here today.
Subsequently, Zulkarnain said the MMEA hauled up all the crew members, aged between 19 and 52, to facilitate investigations under the Fisheries Act 1985 and the Merchant Shipping Ordinance 1952.
The agency also seized the vessel and its catches estimated to be worth RM1.5 million, he said.
Zulkarnain said he did not rule out the possibility that the vessel served as a ‘master ship’ that collected the catches from other fishing boats in the country’s Exclusive Economic Zone before the catches were taken to neighbouring countries.
As such, he urged the maritime community especially local fishermen with information on or witnessed the encroachment of foreign fishermen in the country’s territorial waters, to lodge a report to the agency at 09-5717345 or MERS 999 or present themselves at any nearby MMEA office immediately. — Bernama