MMEA detains Vietnamese crew on trawling boats, discovers turtle shells

MOHD NAZLLIE ZAINUL

KOTA KINABALU: Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) detained two local boats, along with their 27 Vietnamese crew who were found to have trawled near Pulau Mengalum here yesterday. Sabah and Labuan region Maritime director Datuk Mohd Zubil Mat Som said the vessels were detained during Op Khas at 1.30pm at 15 nautical miles northwest of the island. He said the two boats which resembled the design of Vietnamese vessels were owned by a Malaysian and has legit fishing license. “They were detained because Malaysian laws forbid trawl fishing in our waters. “We will carry out investigation on the boats because we fear that they might have violated the fishing license. “We will also check on the identification documents furnished by the crew that were suspected to be fake,” he told a Press conference here today.

Mohd Zubil said the raiding team carried out further checks on one of the boats and found 200kg of fish worth RM500, as well as shells of two turtles that were believed to have been killed by the crew for meals. “We believe the turtles had just been caught and killed based on the blood stain on the shells. It is also an offence to kill protected wildlife in Malaysian waters,” he said, adding that the boats, estimated worth a total RM4 million were seized. Meanwhile, he said there were 55 locally-registered boats with Vietnamese vessel design sighted in Malaysian waters that might have caused confusion among the people, especially the maritime community. “They were indeed Vietnamese boats that were bought by the locals who are also allowed to hire Vietnamese fishing crew. “These boat owners have legit fishing license. However, there are people who may not understand this and assume that the foreign boats have entered our waters illegally. “Nevertheless, we are carrying out continuous checks as there might be quarters who take advantage of the situation and abuse their licenses,” he said. © New Straits Times Press (M) Bhd