Illegal foreign fishing vessels getting creative

Annual visit: Ahmad (centre) reaching out to exchange greetings with fishermen from Kampung Buntal during a community-based programme at the village near Kuching yesterday. Also seen is Pantai Damai assemblyman Dr Abdul Rahman Junaidi (third left).

KUCHING: Foreign vessels are getting more daring each day in finding ways to encroach Sarawak’s waters. From vessel-cloning to flying the Malaysian flag, these are among the tactics used to deceive the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA), said Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Ahmad Maslan. “Last year, five Vietnamese vessels and crew were arrested for flying the Malaysian flag to fish in Sarawak’s waters. They were charged under Section 15 of the Fisheries Act and imprisoned for six months and we confiscated their vessels,” he told reporters after closing a community-based event Program Jiwa Murni at Kampung Buntal near here yesterday. Ahmad said the agency carried out checks on 1,675 fishing vessels last year out of which 187 were arrested for various offences including goods smuggling, human trafficking, fuel dumping and vessel-cloning. “Vessel-cloning is two or more boats having the same licence number,” he explained. Last year, the agency arrested a vessel and its crew under Human Trafficking Act because 21 of its crew members were underage and therefore, considered an offence under the act. In 2009, it carried out checks on 1,566 fishing vessels and 165 arrests were made, he said. He added that the agency also carried out 22 search and rescue operations in 2010 and 13 in 2009 involving cases like distress calls, hit-and-run, robbery, accident and lost of communication. Earlier in his speech, Ahmad announced that the agency would adopt Kampung Buntal, a traditional fishing village, as one of the preferred villages to conduct its community-based activities. He urged fishermen to look at the agency as its friend in making sure the sea was a safe place for them, not as an agency merely out to make arrests. “If you did nothing wrong, don’t worry,” he said.

Posted by YB Datuk Hj. Ahmad bin Hj. Maslan on 3:36 AM. Filed under . You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0

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