GEORGE TOWN: Fourteen Thai citizens on a local fishing vessel were detained by the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) on Tuesday (Oct 19).
Penang MMEA director Capt Abd Razak Mohamed said the boat was stopped about 10.4 nautical miles south-west off Mukah Head here during an operation codenamed Ops Benteng Laut at 1.19pm.
"Our KM Sikuati vessel spotted the boat conducting fishing while carrying out its normal routine for Ops Benteng Laut.
"During inspection, we found the boat was from Pantai Remis and was manned by 14 Thai crewmembers, including its captain, aged from 37 to 74," he said in a statement on Wednesday (Oct 20).
Further checks found the boat had committed several offences including having an expired boat licence and expired permit for hiring foreign workers.
Captain Abd Razak said four crewmen had expired travel documents and the boat was outside the designated fishing zone.
He added that the boat and about one tonne of fish were seized.
He said all suspects were brought to Batu Uban marine police jetty for further investigation.
"All crewmembers will be screened for Covid-19 by the state health department," he said.
Capt Abd Razak said the fishing boat was seized under Section 8(b) of the Fisheries Act 1985, which was for hiring foreigners under the Fisheries Act 1985, and a compound notice will be issued upon conviction.
The case will also be investigated under the Immigration Act.
He urged those with information, especially fishermen, to report any suspicious activities within Malaysian waters to MMEA and other maritime agencies.
"For complaints of maritime offences at sea or emergencies, the public can call our hotline at 04-262 6146 or MERS 999," he added.