KOTA KINABALU: Sixteen illegal immigrants and seven pump boats were seized in a major marine police sweep in Sabah’s eastern Semporna waters as authorities look to wipe out illegal fish bombing activities statewide.
Region 4 (Sabah) Marine Police commander Asst Comm Mohamed Pajeri Ali said on Thursday (July 11) that they carried out joint operations with state Fisheries Department in fish markets and sea areas of Semporna.
He said the focus of the operation was to check on pump boats (small boats fitted with water pumps as engines), used as a mode sea transport by villagers on the islands and non-citizens in the district that borders southern Philippines.
He said they seized three unregistered pump boats and four registered boats being used by illegal immigrants in the area.
ACP Pajeri said they detained a total 16 illegal immigrants who did not possess any proper documents.
He added that the key focus of the operations was to check on the illegal immigrants, permits and licences of those using pump boats.
The aggressive operations comes after the July 5 incident where a local dive instructor and two China tourists were killed by a blast from a fish bomb at a dive site off Pulau Kalapuan in Semporna.
He said they were also enforcing various laws, including the maritime shipping ordinance, during the operations that saw the marine police and fisheries department enforcers checking the Semporna town fish market.
The people arrested and the boats seized were brought back to the Semporna marine police base.
“We will be continuing our action to wipe out fish bombing activities in Semporna waters,” ACP Pajeri said.
Continuous checks would also be carried out in markets to weed out the trading of bombed fish, he said.
Since the deaths of the three divers, believed to be first case of recreational divers killed from blast activities, both the marine police and Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) have stepped up operations statewide.