KOTA KINABALU: The Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) has detained six Vietnamese boat crew for encroaching into Sandakan waters and stealing the country’s marine resources.
In a statement issued by the Sandakan Maritime Zone public relations unit, the culprits tried to flee with one tonne of sea cucumbers illegally taken from Malaysia’s waters when approached by the authorities.
This is the fourth case of Vietnamese vessels being caught this year by the Sandakan MMEA, which have come down hard on those stealing the country’s sea cucumbers.
“A boat was detected moving suspiciously in high speed in the dark. After pursuing the boat for 50 minutes, the maritime vessel managed to intercept it at around 9.55pm on Tuesday (Nov 5) night at 15.5 nautical miles northeast of Kuala Kinabatangan Besar.
“An inspection found that all six men, aged between 27 to 44, did not have valid documents.
“The boat is believed to have conducted illegal harvesting of sea cucumbers using a metal device specially designed to reach the seabed and causing harm to the ecosystem, especially the corals, ” said Sandakan Maritime Zone director Captain Mohd Khairulanuar Abd Majid.
The boat, the fishing equipment as well as the sea cucumbers with a total estimated value of RM285,000, have since been confiscated.
The case would be investigated under Immigration Act 1959/63 and Fisheries Act 1985, added Captain Mohd Khairulanuar.