MMEA detains two foreign fishing boats for trespassing Sabah waters

KOTA KINABALU: The Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) detained two foreign fishing boats with 20 crews and two skippers believed to be Vietnamese encroaching and stealing marine resources in Sabah waters, on Wednesday.

Sabah and Labuan MMEA director First Admiral Maritime Mohd Rosli Abdullah said the two fishing boats were spotted fishing, using the tunda ganding method, during an operation code-named Ops Naga Timur, about 30 nautical miles from Pulau Mengalum.

He said when the Maritime boats attempted to approach the foreign fishermen’s boats, they cut off the nets, before attempting to escape and refused to cooperate when ordered to stop.

But maritime officials took 30 minutes to pursue the boats and they eventually complied, after being followed and forced to stop.

“Upon approaching the first foreign fishing boat at 5.47 pm, at 29 nautical miles off Pulau Mengalum, an inspection found the registration certificate of the boat had expired and four of the Vietnamese crew and skipper, aged between 18 and 42 years, did not have any valid identification documents,” he said in a statement here today.

The second boat was detained at 32 nautical miles west of Pulau Mengalum Island at 6.15 pm, and an inspection found that the boat’s registration had also expired and did not have any licence or permission from the Fisheries Department to carry out fishing activities in Malaysian waters.

“All 16 crew and one skipper, all Vietnamese, aged between 28 and 48, were arrested,” he added.

Mohd Rosli said the two foreign fishing boats were suspected of trespassing under the Fisheries Act 1985 and the Immigration Act 1959/63. Both the boats were later towed to the Sepanggar Maritime Jetty.