Fishermen bail, MMEA seize 200kg of illegal catch, bombing devices

AARON LEE


KOTA KINABALU: Skippers of two pump boats, believed to have been involved with fish bombing, were said to have jumped into the sea when they were pursued by the Malaysian Maritme Enforcement Agency (MMEA) here this morning.

Kota Kinabalu MMEA director First Admiral Adam Aziz said during the 12.40am incident, the agency's personnel were patrolling off Pulau Gaya waters and spotted the boats. They tried to approach the boats to carry out an inspection.

However, it is believed that the skippers had panicked and tried to evade the officers by making their way towards Kampung Pondo, before eventually jumping off their boats and swimming towards a mangrove area.

"MMEA found about 200kg of fish and devices believed to be used for bombing.

"The seizure was brought back to the MMEA jetty in Sepanggar, pending further investigation," he said in a statement, adding the boats were also without registration numbers.

Meanwhile, Sabah and Labuan MMEA director First Admiral Mohd Zubil Mat Som said those involved in fish bombing activities can be charged under the Fisheries Act 1985 with a fine not exceeding RM20,000 or imprisonment not exceeding two years or both.

"They can also be charged under the Corrosive and Explosive Substances and Offensive Weapons Act 1958 for possession of explosives.

"If convicted, the accused could face a penalty of not less than five years or a maximum of 10 years in prison and whipping," he added in the same statement.

Fish bombing activity is detrimental to marine ecosystem especially the coral reef, which will in turn affect the government’s effort in promoting the "End in Sipadan" diving campaign as a part of tourism activities in Sabah.