51 interceptions at sea this year

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MIRI: Fifty-one foreign vessels were intercepted by the Malaysia Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) Miri for en­croaching into Malaysian water until yesterday.

IN ACTION:  The agency boards a local fishing boat to check on things.

IN ACTION: The agency boards a local fishing boat to check on things.

Local boats or vessel are not spared as the agency is also monitoring them for various maritime offences that come under Customs, revealed district enforce­ment chief Captain Ismaili Bujang Pit yesterday.

Most of the foreign vessels are from Vietnam, Ismaili said.

The MMEA, he said, got on 512 local vessels and boats, including locally registered foreign deep-sea fishing boats to ensure they were not involved in illegal activities like smuggling and fishing in restricted zones.

“Currently there are six foreign vessels grounded in our depot at Kampung Pulau Melayu and they are waiting for clearance from our headquarters in Kuala Lumpur. We have called for tender,” Ismaili told reporters after MMEA’s ‘A Day with the Media’ yesterday during which reporters joined the agency in enforcement work.

“Other vessels and boats (mostly local) were issued compounds and released after paying their compound. Some are still detained at the old jetty, pending the court cases,” he added.

Apart from enforcement work, the agency is also involved in search-and-rescue operation with other agencies like the police.

MMEA was involved in nine search-and-rescue operations throughout the year.

Ismaili praised the public and the local fishermen community for reporting illegal activities in Malaysian waters, espe­cially by foreign fishermen.

“Our response time in an operation should be 30 minutes after we receive a complaint or report from the public. Accurate information enables us to reach seven locations and arrest foreign vessels less than 30 minutes after receiving the reports,” he revealed.

Ismaili said the agency will intensify its monitoring and enforcement work to ensure the safety of Malaysian waters.