JOHOR BARU: Maritime authorities here have detained three Vietnamese fishing vessels and a total of 23 crew members in two separate incidents for encroaching into Malaysian waters off Mersing.
In the first incident, the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) detained two vessels together with 19 crewmen aged 18 to 52 some 10 nautical miles north-east of Pulau Pemanggil at around 2am on Sunday (April 25) morning.
Mersing maritime zone director maritime commander Khairul Nizam Misran said the two vessels were spotted during a joint operation with the marine police and Fisheries Department.
“The crew and two captains were detained for failing to show any identification documents, ” he said here on Monday (April 26).
He said the vessels and their crew were taken to the MMEA jetty at Teluk Gading for further investigations and would also undergo Covid-19 screening as a safeguard during the pandemic.
Cmdr Khairul Nizam added that MMEA would act without compromise against any foreign vessels that enter the country’s waters illegally.
In the second case, the Fisheries Department detained a Vietnamese fishing vessel at around 4am on Sunday morning some 10 nautical miles from Pulau Aur.
Its director Noraishah Hashim said the department and marine police took almost two hours to chase down the vessel and its four crewmen.
She said the fishing boat was elusive "but we were able to detain it through tactical manoeuvring of our own."
Further checks on the vessel found it did not have any documentation allowing it to carry out fishing activities in Malaysian waters, she added.
Noraishah also said the vessel and its equipment have been seized by the department to help with investigations.
She urged the local fishing community to contact the relevant authorities about any encroachment by foreign fishing vessels.
Both cases are being investigated under the Fisheries Act 1985 for encroaching and catching fish in Malaysian waters without approval from the Fisheries director; and the Immigration Act 1959/1963 for failing to show identification documents.