KUCHING: Thirteen crewmen from a foreign fishing vessel jumped into the sea after local trawlers cornered the boat following a quarrel over entangled fishing nets.
The local fishermen plucked the foreigners from the water but their boat made a quick getaway, off Tanjung Manis in the Sarikei Division on Friday afternoon.
Earlier, one of the local trawlers reported that the foreign vessel, believed to be from Thailand, had tried to ram it when both were trying to free their entangled nets.
Boat owner Wong Hung Dek said his trawler, with five crewmembers, decided to leave the site rather than get into more trouble with the foreigners.
However, he added, his boat sought the help of others in the vicinity and, before long, about 20 local trawler vessels were on their way back to the site to corner the foreign boat.
His elder brother Hung Teng, who later lodged a police report in Sibu, said it was then that the 13 foreigners jumped into the sea.
Hung Teng, who is the Sarawak Fishing Vessels Association chairman, said the foreign crewmen who were fished out were handed over to the police in Sibu at 9pm the same day.
“We (the association) are very concerned about this serious incident, and we want the authorities to investigate,” he said, adding that it was the first such conflict between a foreign trawler boat and a local vessel.
He hoped the authorities would step up their patrols off Sarawak waters and take stern action against foreign trawlers encroaching into the state's waters.
The local trawlers who returned to shore had also voiced their concern over the issue, he said yesterday.
Hung Teng claimed there are more than 200 foreign trawlers carrying out illegal fishing in Sarawak waters.
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