PUTRAJAYA: A multi-agency task force will be set up soon to check the increasing incidence of encroachment by foreign fishermen, Home Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin said yesterday.
The task force will be led by the Home Ministry, with members from the Defence Ministry, Foreign Ministry, Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA), Royal Malaysian Navy (RMN), Royal Malaysia Police (PDRM), Immigration Department, Fisheries Department, Malaysian Fisheries Development Authority (LKIM) and Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC), he said.
“They will conduct special operations soon, and it is hoped that this action will put an end to encroachment by foreign fishermen,” he told a media conference at his ministry here.
Also present at the media conference were Agriculture and Agro-based Industry Minister Datuk Salahuddin Ayub and Deputy Defence Minister Liew Chin Tong.
According to Muhyiddin, encroachment by foreign fishermen especially Vietnamese had been on the rise, with 41 boats being seized by MMEA and 26 by the Fisheries Department this year.
“Such cases are not new but have been increasing of late according to the season because it is now the cuttlefish season.
They (foreign fishermen) enter and do not pay heed to international maritime laws,” he said.
Asked if enforcement has not been effective enough, Muhyiddin said each agency carries out its duty and operations within its own jurisdiction.
“If operations are conducted in an integrated manner, when they (fishermen) hear about us it is hoped that they would not dare to intrude into our waters.
“If they still encroach, with more assets and the manpower mobilised, maybe we can do better in detaining them,” he said.
Muhyiddin said Malaysia, through the Foreign Ministry, would ask the Vietnamese authorities to advise their fishermen to stay away from Malaysian waters.
Asked on the involvement of the MACC, Muhyiddin said the commission was invited to come on board to prevent any irregularity in the enforcement action of the task force.
“We are not sure if there will be any element of corruption but for sure that (MACC participation) is our way of ensuring that enforcement can be done more effectively,” he said.
Meanwhile, Salahuddin said encroachment by foreign fishermen had caused the country to lose sea resources amounting to RM6 billion each year.
He said the ministry had never issued any licence to foreign fishermen to fish in the country’s waters.
“There may have been cases of irregularities where they used certain licences but officially the ministry has never given licences to foreign boats to operate,” he said. — Bernama