Kelantan MMEA disposes of seven seized Vietnamese boats

PASIR PUTEH: The Kelantan Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) disposed of seven Vietnamese fishing vessels forfeited by courts by sinking the boats and turning them into artificial reef 5.3 nautical miles from Kuala Besar in Kota Bharu on Tuesday (Feb 14)

Its director Maritime Captain Syed Nor Adli Syed Ab Rahman said three of the vessels were foreign fishing boats that used local boat numbers to mislead the authorities.

He said the vessels were seized during Op Naga Barat, Op Kuda Laut and Op Damai in 2021.

"When we seized the boats, we also arrested 58 crew members including Vietnamese tekongs (skippers). We also seized 1,700 fish of different species, 1,300 kilogrammes (kg) of trash fish, 50 kg of sea cucumber, 150 kg of dried squid and 27,800 litres of diesel including fishing equipment estimated to be worth RM7.1 million.

"All those arrested, including the tekong were found guilty under Section 15 (1) (a) of the Fisheries Act 1985 for illegal fishing which is punishable under Section 25 (a) of the Fisheries Act 1985,” he said in a statement on Wednesday (Feb 15).

According to Syed Nor Adli, the value of the fines totalled RM12.5 million but they opted to be jailed for between five and eight months.

"Since 2007, Kelantan Maritime has disposed of a total of 264 Vietnamese fishing boats through a variety of disposal methods like sinking, destroying, auctioning and selling and gifting with an estimated value of more than RM380 million.

"The sinking process was done with the cooperation of the Southeast Asian Fisheries Development Centre (ISMAT) under the Malaysian Fisheries Department,” he said.

He added that each boat was put through a stringent selection process before being approved to be submerged to ensure that no contamination occurs and the boat is not easily broken and is resistant enough to be used as artificial reef.

Meanwhile, in George Town, Penang, MMEA detained a local fishing boat operated by five Myanmar nationals who did not have valid identification documents 23 nautical miles northwest of Pulau Kendi near here on Wednesday.

Its director Maritime Captain Abd Razak Mohamed said MMEA arrested the crew aged between 19 and 44 years old during a routine patrol at 7.15 pm.

"Upon further inspection, it was discovered that all five men did not have valid identification documents and a written approval letter or work permit from the Director-General of Fisheries, Department of Fisheries Malaysia to work," he said in a statement today.

He said the suspected were being detained under the Immigration Act 2959/63 for not having valid identification documents and the Fisheries Act 1985 for violating the licencing requirements. - Bernama

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