MIRI: Foreign fishermen are gleefully joining in the peak of the shrimp-harvest season here in the waters of the South China Sea off northern Sarawak, but the maritime authorities are not amused.
The presence of these foreign fishermen has annoyed the local fishermen whose catch are being affected by the foreign “competitors” and these local fishermen have been complaining to the local press and local politicians who in turn have upped the pressure on the maritime authorities to act.
Over the past two days, the Malaysian Maritime Agency in Miri went into action and seized two boats belonging to foreign fishermen who had been fishing illegally here.
The agency’s operations director in Miri, Commander Syed Nor Adli Syed Abdul Rahman, told a press conference here that those foreign fishermen who came here to fish without having a permit from Malaysia could be fined a maximum of RM1mil and jailed if found guilty.
“We have started an integrated operation to deter these foreign fishermen from carrying out illegal fishing in our waters.
“We are joining force with the Fisheries Department and police and other departments to curb these illegal fishing activities,” he said.
So far, the agency had seized two fishing boats belonging to foreign fishermen who were found fishing illegally off the Miri shores.
The fibre glass boats had no Malaysian-registered permit to fish or boat registration number, he said.
Some 40kg of the shrimps and other marine harvest believed to be illegally harvested inside Malaysian waters had also been confiscated, he said, adding that nets, speed-boat engines and other equipment on board had also been seized.
So far, one Filipino with a passport had been arrested for fishing here illegally, while another without any personal documents had also been detained for committing similar offences.
Local fishermen had been complaining that the foreigners were adversely affecting their catch during the peak of the shrimp season.
They are also worried that if these illegal fishermen continue their trade, more of such illegals will find their way into Miri waters which may pose a security threat to the people here.