MMEA seizes 2 Vietnamese trawlers, detain 25 crew in waters off K T'ganu

Zarina Abdullah

KUALA TERENGGANU: The state Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) has seized two Vietnamese trawlers and detained 25 crew members, including two tekongs, for encroaching into Malaysian waters to fish.

The two boats, using the registration numbers D LIMA 29 and MAWAR 29, were spotted by an MMEA patrol vessel about 25 nautical miles and 37 nautical miles from Kuala Terengganu last Friday at 2pm and 2.55pm.

State MMEA director Captain Maritime Zainolabidin Jusoh said both trawlers were seized as part of an operation to curb illegal activities by foreign fishermen, especially during the squid jigging season.

Zainolabidin said his men received a tip-off from a local fisherman about the trawlers before catching the intruders red-handed.

"They tried to avoid enforcement officers by moving their boats away, but our men managed to block them in a short chase," he told reporters at the MMEA head office in Kuala Terengganu today.

"Further examination also revealed that all 25 crew members, aged between 18 and 61, did not possess valid identity documents. They were detained for investigation under the Fisheries Act 1985," Zainolabidin said, adding that a check with the Fisheries Department also confirmed that the boats were without valid permits and documents.

He said that 100kg of fish, 400kg of dried squid and 6,000 litres of diesel were also seized in the operation.

"Both trawlers, the catch and fishing gear cost a total of RM1.5 million," Zainolabidin added.