Labuan Fisheries Stepping Up Operation Against Illegal Foreign Boats, Trawlers

The wooden boats used by the Vietnamese fishermen to catch fish illegally off Labuan waters and the 13 crews including skippers on board are still being questioned.

LABUAN: The Labuan Fisheries Department is stepping up sea operation against the continuous presence of illegal fishing boats and trawlers from foreign fishermen on Labuan waters especially from Vietnam.

Its director Faizal Ibrahim Suhaili said the illegal operations form the foreign fishermen had not only affected the local fishing industry but poises to incur losses in revenue to the government.

“In an integrated operation with marine police this week from April 15-18, we managed to nab 13 Vietnamese fishermen in two wooden boats who poached into our waters, and some 150kg of various marine catch were seized,” he said at a press conference here today.

Among the areas involved in the monitoring control surveillance efforts were Labuan waters, the popular deep-sea fishing site of Semarang, emerging dive site of Vernon Bank, Menumbok, Weston, Sipitang in Sabah and Awat-Awat, Lawas, Sarawak.

Agriculture and Agro-Based Industry Ministry last year disclosed the government had estimated a loss of RM6bil every year due to illegal activities by foreign boats and trawlers.

Faizal (third left) showing among the fishes caught illegally by Vietnamese fishermen off Labuan waters and the 13 crews including skippers on board are still being questioned.

Of the total, RM1.8bil in losses was estimated from deep-sea fishing and the remaining RM4.2bil from inshore fishing.

“We are working together with the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) and

Marine Police to ensure we will not continue to lose our marine resources to foreign fishermen,” he said at a press conference here after launching the Engagement Programme of Labuan Fisheries Department.

A total of 256 foreign vessels, especially from Vietnam, with some RM180mil of catch onboard were seized from 2016 to date.

The ministry reminded Malaysian owners not to lease out their vessels to foreign fishermen for illegal fishing or they could have their fishing licence discontinued.

On unscrupulous Malaysian businessmen appearing to be working with foreign fishermen by leasing their deep-sea fishing licences, he said it was an unethical act.