25 Vietnamese fishing boats detained, 123 arrested in multi-agency operation


KUALA LUMPUR: A joint task force has detained 25 Vietnamese fishing vessels for illegal fishing.

The vessels were detained during Ops Naga, which involved the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency(MMEA), Royal Malaysia Navy, Royal Malaysia Air Force, police and Fisheries Department.

The Home Ministry in a statement on Saturday (May 18) said the operation covered Malaysian waters and airspace in Pahang, Terengganu and Kelantan between May 2 and May 16.

"During that time, a total of 266 vessels were checked and 25 detained.

"The 25 were Vietnamese fishing vessels and 123 crew members were arrested," the ministry said.

It added that those arrested were being investigated under Section 15(1)(a) of the Fisheries Act 1985 for fishing without the permission of the Fisheries director general, as well as the Immigration Act for entering Malaysia without proper documentation.

The ministry said the task force also raided a house in the region which was believed to be conducting tonto activities, based on the discovery of high frequency radio communication devices there.

"With these successes, we will continue Ops Naga to ensure our sovereign waters are not intruded upon and local fishermen can conduct their activities without competition or disturbance from foreign fishermen," the ministry added.

On April 24, Home Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, Agriculture and Agro-Base Industry Minister Datuk Salahuddin Ayub, and Deputy Defence Minister Senator Liew Chin Tong announced the implementation of the task force to handle foreign fishing activities, especially by Vietnamese fishing boats, in Malaysian waters.