KUCHING: Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) is looking to build two radar stations to boost monitoring and enforcement in the Sarawak waters.
Its director-general Maritime Admiral Datuk Seri Ahmad Puzi Ab Kahar said the agency was committed to strengthening its presence in the state by mobilising its two new assets, the ex-Ojika-class patrol ships from the Japanese Coast Guard, once they are ready for commission in May.
At present, MMEA has nine radar stations in the Straits of Malacca and three in Sabah, covering the coastline from Kota Kinabalu to Kudat. The agency is also building new stations along the Straits of Malacca – at Pulau Perak and Pulau Jarak – and three more in Sabah that will cover the range from Kudat to Sandakan.
“The Japanese government has presented us with two ships that are equivalent to the frigate class. They are currently being upgraded and fitted with the latest technology.
“We are also constructing six new ships, comprising three new- generation patrol craft boats and three offshore patrol vessels (OPV).
“The OPV, measuring 84m long, will be fitted with umanned aerial vehicles and a helicopter-landing pad.
“These new assets will strengthen MMEA’s position and performance especially in Sarawak waters,” he told reporters after launching MMEA’s volunteers reserve unit at the Tun Abang Salahuddin Maritime Complex in Muara Tebas here.
Sarawak has over 500 volunteers for its pioneer reserve unit and Ahmad Puzi plans to double that number.
He said MMEA was aiming to recruit 5,000 people for its volunteer reserve force this year and gradually increase the number to 10,000 by 2020.
“At present, we often receive tip-offs from fishermen and offshore workers on suspicious activities and trespassing at sea.
“The volunteer reserve personnel will help the agency fight crimes at sea, becoming our eyes and ears. They will also be involved in search-and-rescue operations,” he added.
Ahmad Puzi said that in the last 12 years since MMEA was set up, the agency managed to reduce crime index at sea from 48% to 3%. The agency has conducted over 220,000 boarding and inspections within Malaysian waters including 34,000 checks on boats and fishing vessels last year.
“Any suspicious vessels will be intercepted and investigated to see if they complied with the law,” he said.
MMEA has seized 940 fishing vessels over the past decade, generating some RM300mil from the auctioning of these ships.