KOTA KINABALU: The state government is urging the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) to increase enforcement to curb Vietnamese fishermen from encroaching into Sabah waters.
In making the call yesterday, Minister of Agriculture and Food Industry Junz Wong said local fishermen had raised concern on the presence and sightings of Vietnamese fishing boats in Sabah waters, especially at the waters off Kuala Penyu.
“This (the encroachment) does not only affect our catch but also may destroy our marine nature ecology like the coral reefs,” he said yesterday.
In this regard, Junz urged the need for the MMEA to place their assets at coastal areas which are often encroached by foreign boats so that the livelihood of local fishermen is protected.
He cited records which stated that currently 11 local operators with 51 deep sea fishing vessels licensed with Sabah Fisheries Department were actively operating in Sabah waters.
He said from the MMEA records, five Vietnamese vessels had been detained in Sabah waters so far with some serving punishment while the rest were going through legal process.
Junz cautioned that under the Sabah Fisheries Act 1985, foreign vessels detained in Malaysian waters can be fined RM1 million for boat owner or skipper, and RM100,000 for each crew member, while the ship can be seized for disposal.