KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia is in the dark over a report that Indonesia had detained 200 Malaysian fishermen for illegally fishing in its waters.
Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Anifah Aman said Wisma Putra and it's office in Indonesia were trying to confirm if the incident took place.
"As of now, we have not been able to authenticate or confirm the report. We are still checking," he told The Star Online.
Reuters reported that Indonesia on Wednesday detained 200 Malaysians found fishing illegally in its waters, as it moves to stem billions of dollars in economic losses.
Cabinet Secretary Andi Widjajanto was quoted as saying that a crackdown on illegal fishing, which costs the vast archipelagic nation around $25bil a year, kicked off this week.
"The president has said our maritime sector is in a state of emergency...so we need a new, bold approach and that's why he's declared a war on illegal fishing," said Widjajanto, an expert on defence and foreign affairs.
Neither Agriculture and Agro-based Ministry nor the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) were also aware of the detention of Malaysian fishermen.
Agriculture and Agro-based Industry Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob said there had been no report of fishermen not returning from their expedition.
"I have checked with the fisheries department whether they were informed of such matter but they too, are in the dark," he added.
MMEA deputy director-general (Operation) Datuk Mohd Puzi Ab Kahar said the report was an outrageous allegation.
“I can safely say that there is no such number of fishermen being detained by our Indonesian counterparts in the last two or three years,” he said.
“The agency and our Indonesian counterparts have always cooperated in terms of border patrols.
“If any of our citizens encroached in each other’s boundaries, we would know it,” added Mohd Puzi.