KOTA KINABALU: The Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) has detained 33 Vietnamese fishermen and boat skippers from three vessels.
The 33 were detained for allegedly trespassing into Malaysian waters and carrying out electric pulse fishing off the coast of Pulau Layang-Layang here.
Sabah MMEA director Rear Admiral Kamaruszaman Abu Hassan said three foreign vessels are believed to be Vietnamese and were intercepted by the Royal Malaysian Navy at about 3pm Tuesday (May 21).
"Upon inspection, it was discovered that the boats did not have a licence to operate in Malaysian waters. Some 30 Vietnamese fishermen aged between 16 and 55 and three skippers were arrested.
"They also kept prohibited devices used for electric pulse fishing. Not only is this method illegal, it also threatens our marine ecosystem," he explained.
Kamaruszaman said the team found 900kg of fish in the three boats.
The vessels were brought to the Kota Kinabalu jetty in Sepanggar to assist with investigations under Section 14(3)(b), Section 15 and Section 26 (1)(c) of the Fisheries Act 1985.
Kamaruszaman added that the MMEA views this incident seriously.
"The greed of foreign fishermen in harvesting our marine resources should not be taken lightly. We should fight such actions.
"As of now, we have intercepted six Vietnamese fishing vessels in Kudat and Kota Kinabalu," he said, while thanking the Navy for their cooperation in protecting Malaysian waters from being trespassed by foreign vessels.