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MMEA detains Vietnamese trawler for encroaching into Malaysian waters

KOTA KINABALU: The crew of a Vietnamese fishing trawler was detained by the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) for encroaching into Malaysian waters on Saturday.

MMEA personnel on board the patrol vessel KM Ikhlas spotted the fishing trawler about 36 nautical miles southwest of Pulau Kalutan off the northern Kudat district.

Kudat MMEA director Lt Komander Maritim Boon Chin Chau said the fishing trawler skipper could not produce any licence or permit for them to fish in Malaysian waters.

He said the skipper and crewmen aged between 19 and 60 were immediately arrested and their boat towed back to Kudat.

The MMEA also seized about 50kg of fish and other catch in the trawler.

The crew were handed over to MMEA's investigation unit in Kudat and the case was being investigated under the Fisheries Act.

The skipper of the trawler faces a fine of up to RM1mil while each crewman could be fined up to RM100,000.

"We are aware of public concerns over the encroachment of foreign fishing vessels and we are doing everything possible to take action against them," Lt Komander Boon said.

Last July Kota Kinabalu Fishing Boats' Owner Association chairman Simon Hong said that prices of fish had increased as much as 60% as the amount of fish caught had drastically reduced over the past year.

He said fishermen on average were able to catch about 100 tonnes of fish a month between March and May last year but the figure had dropped to about half the amount in the same period in 2017.

Hong said a key factor in the reduction of fish was the increasing encroachment of foreign fishing vessels in Sabah waters.

He said fishermen fully backed the call by Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi for enforcement authorities to chase out foreign fishing vessels from the nation's waters.

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