JOHOR BAHRU: The Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) ordered five merchant ships from various countries to leave as they were found to have anchored without permission in the waters of Tompok Utara, near Kota Tinggi, yesterday.
Johor Maritime director First Admiral (Maritime) Nurul Hizam Zakaria said the ships registered in Dominica, Indonesia, Palau, Panama and Liberia were evicted via an operation.
“An MMEA patrol vessel was assigned to expel the merchant ships, for not possessing valid permission from the Marine Department to anchor in Malaysian waters,” he said in a statement today.
He said the waters of Tompok Utara has become a focus area for merchant ships to anchor since the Movement Control Order (MCO) was enforced in March, as most countries had taken measures to restrict movement in and out of major ports.
He said the situation caused merchant ships to take the opportunity to anchor around Malaysian waters illegally.
Nurul Hizam said, during this month, they had evicted 23 merchant ships in the waters of Tompok Utara, while detaining about 17 other ships in the waters of eastern Johor throughout the year.
He reminded that the waters of Permatang Timur (Eastern Bank), Beting Ramunia (Ramunia Shoal) and Tompok Utara (North Patch) were within the Malaysian Maritime Zone and are not international waters, although they are at a distance of more than 12 nautical miles from the nearest land.
“As such, all shipping activities in these areas must have permission from the Malaysian authorities,” he added.
Nurul Hizam said those with information about maritime crimes in Johor waters, can contact the 24-hour state MMEA operations centre hotline at 07-2199404. -Bernama