KOTA KINABALU: Maritime officials seized some 230 live Tiger sharks and about 800kg of fish from three fishing vessels operating illegally in waters off Sabah.
State Malaysia Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) lead operation chief Captain Mohd Zawawi Abdullah said 35 Vietnamese crew members were also nabbed.
“We conducted an operation from Aug 27 until this morning (Aug 30), and boarded the first vessel on the 28th, and two more on Aug 29,” he told a press conference on Thursday (Aug 30).
He added that the three vessels were found operating near the Pulau Mengalum area near here.
“Upon our raids, we found the live sharks kept in compartments with proper ventilation on the two boats on Aug 29,” he said.
Captain Zawawi said they were investigating the use of the sharks – whether the fishermen had wanted to sell them, or just to get their fins.
“We are also checking whether the catch was meant for the local market or export,” he said.
He said the first boat was found to be operating without any licence while the two other vessels possessed a local licence, but were operating not according to the terms allowed.
Captain Zawawi said 19 Vietnamese crew members were on board the first fishing vessel while the remaining 16 were nabbed from the other two boats.
“From the three boats, we recovered about 800kg worth of catch comprising all types of fish including protected and grade A species, among others,” he said.
He said the cases were being probed under the Fisheries Act as well as the Wildlife Protection Act.
He said such operations would be conducted continuously.
“We are grateful for public information and hope cooperation between maritime officials and local communities will continue,” Captain Zawawi said.