MIRI: The Malaysian Maritime En-forcement Agency (MMEA) believes that foreign fishermen are using fake Malaysian fishing boat licences to poach in Sarawak waters.
This followed the seizure of a foreign fishing boat about 100 nautical miles southwest of here last Friday bearing the registration number of a Malaysian fishing vessel.
Miri MMEA enforcement chief Maritime Capt Ismaili Bujang Pit said the 30-tonne fishing boat was spotted at Beting Luconia off Bintulu and was found using registration number SF21227C. (SF2 refers to Sarawak Fishery Region 2.)
The MMEA patrol boat KM Bijak led by Maritime Lt Commander Abdul Razak Mohamad then approached the boat and, when asked, the skipper, a foreigner, produced permits and documents signed by the director-general of fisheries.
“Since the government had stop-ped issuing licences to foreign fishing boats for deep-sea fishing, we believe that the boat was using a registration number that had been duplicated as a cover for illegal activities,” he told Bernama.
The officers then seized the foreign boat and took it back to the jetty.
Ismaili said a catch weighing about 300kg and worth more than RM2,000 was found in the boat together with electronic navigation equipment and trawler fishing nets.
He said foreign boats that poach in Malaysian waters would usually transfer their catch to larger boats anchored in international waters.
“MMEA will step up patrols as fine weather in the middle of the year is good for fishing. Several areas off the Sarawak coast are known to be favourite haunts for foreign fishermen,” he added.
The Agriculture and Agro Based Industry Ministry last year stopped the issuing of licences to foreign boats with the aim of restricting deep-sea fishing to Malaysians.