MMEA detains 38 Vietnamese fishermen, 6 tonnes of catch seized

The foreign vessel spotted in Miri waters.

MIRI: The Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) District 13 (DM13) detained 38 Vietnamese nationals and seized six tonnes of marine catch, valued at RM60,000 in waters off here on Wednesday.

MMEA DM13 director Capt Mohamad Fauzi Othman said the agency had been teaming up with the Customs Department to conduct patrol around Miri waters under ‘Ops Bersatu 2017’ since Aug 9.

On the first day of the operation, the MMEA boat detected two vessels at a distance of less than five nautical miles from theirs at 2.15pm – the enforcers suspected that the vessels might be fishing illegally using the pair trawling method.

“At 3.20pm, the MMEA detained a fishing vessel at 73 nautical miles off Tanjong Lobang.

“Upon inspection, the vessel was registered as a cargo boat without a ship master as stated on the licence.

“Eight of the 19 crew members on board including the skipper, did not have valid identification documents,” he said.

Meanwhile, the other vessel was detained at 3.53pm.

“Upon inspection, the vessel was registered also as a cargo boat and was using the licence of another boat. Two of the 19 crew members including the skipper did not have valid identification documents as well,” said Fauzi.

Investigation was conducted under Section 15 (1) (a) of the Fisheries Act 1985, and the Merchant Shipping Ordinance 1952/1960.

“The two boats were then brought to MMEA vessel detention centre at Kampung Pulau Melayu for further investigation. A total of 38 crew members including the skippers, aged between 14 and 48, are being detained pending investigation into the case,” he added.

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