MIRI: Foreign and local fishing crew members arrested for illegal fishing are subjected to mandatory Covid-19 tests before being transferred to detention centres on shore, says the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA).
MMEA enforcement chief for Miri, Capt Mohd Fauzi Othman said Thursday (Aug 27) that the Covid-19 tests are a necessary precaution to curb the spread of the virus.
"Our patrol units, while on enforcement rounds in the South China Sea offshore here, have detained two ships for illegal fishing and not having proper permit to hire foreigners,” he said.
Over the past 24 hours, the MMEA detained two fishing vessels and crew members from Indonesia and Vietnam for illegal fishing offshore Miri and Sibuti districts in northern Sarawak.
All those arrested were subjected to Covid-19 screenings by Health Department units the moment their ships were docked at the Pulau Melayu jetty in the outskirts of Miri city.
"In the first case offshore of Miri, we seized a vessel and arrested the skipper and five Indonesians on board, aged between 35 and 53.
"In the second case offshore Sibuti (60km south of Miri), our patrol unit seized a vessel and arrested the skipper and four Vietnamese on board.
"They were taken to the Pulau Melayu jetty in Miri and are being probed for using illegal foreign crew and not having proper permit to carry out fishing.
"All of them are being subjected to Covid-19 tests when landed on shore," he told reporters here.
Capt Fauzi said the MMEA sought the help of the Health Department to mobilise its Covid-19 screening unit to the jetty.
Sarawak has seen 19 deaths and about 700 positive cases of Covid-19 so far.
A big portion of these cases involved infections imported into the state.
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