ALOR GAJAH (Bernama): A foreign tanker believed to be involved in an oil spill in the waters off Tanjung Balau and Batu Layar near Kota Tinggi, Johor, on April 17 has been traced outside the nation's waters, says Marine Department director-general Datuk Baharin Abdul Hamid.
He said the department would be seeking the cooperation of the country where the tanker was currently berthed at to take oil samples and for further investigations to be carried out so that prosecution could be done immediately.
"We have used electronic methods such as satellite detectors, the Automated Monitoring System (AIS) and Vessel Traffic System to identify and locate the tanker.
"It is still in the investigation stage and after getting cooperation from the country where the tanker is berthed, the Environment Department will take a sample of the oil from the tanker," he told reporters when met after the 120th Malaysian Marine Academy (ALAM) Convocation Ceremony at Kuala Sungai Baru here Saturday (April 27).
Earlier he presented awards to some of the 191 graduates who had completed their studies in the fields of shipping and maritime.
On April 17, the Marine Department reported an oil spill stretching over one kilometre in the waters off Tanjung Balau and Batu Layar and believed that those behind the foreign-owned tanker were the culprits behind the incident.
Baharin said it would strengthen cooperation with the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) and Marine Police in an effort to monitor the country's waters from all aspects including oil waste disposal.
On other developments, he added that the country's maritime industry did not have enough skilled manpower among its sailors, especially in handling Malaysian vessels.
"According to statistics, we have about 20,000 seafarers operating Malaysian vessels but of that number, 50% are foreign sailors and we are taking steps to increase the number of local sailors through the Malaysian Shipping Master Plan (MSMP) 2017-2022," he said.
He said that expertise and skills among local sailors were important as Malaysia was a trading nation with import and export activities, As much as 98% of outgoing and incoming cargo movements were in the waters of the country.
He said adequate skilled manpower could help to ensure that ships in the waters and ports of the country were safe from any threats or incidents.
He also said that the maritime field had enough branches of employment for sailors in the country both in the shipping and port sectors that promised good incomes. - Bernama