PASIR PUTEH: The Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (APMM) Kelantan arrested nine Vietnamese fishermen for encroaching into Malaysian waters to harvest sea cucumbers, yesterday.

Kelantan MMEA director Maritime Captain Syed Nor Adli Syed Ab Rahman said the suspects, aged 24 to 53, were detained at 54 and 56 nautical miles off Tok Bali, Kelantan at 5.07pm and 5.35pm, respectively.

He said the agency also seized two boats, 10,000 liters of diesel oil, sea cucumber fishing equipment with a total value of RM600,000.

He said in the operation, his men took almost two hours to intercept and hunt down the two boats carrying the fishermen as they tried to escape to Vietnamese waters.

“When we tried to stop the two boats, the fishermen used a 25-meter iron rod, smeared oil on the boat deck and threw ropes into the water to make it difficult for our members to get onto their boats,“ he told a press conference at the Kelantan MMEA Jetty, here today.

Syed Nor Adli said the fishermen involved were placed at a temporary detention room after they tested negative for Covid-19.

“The case is being investigated under Section 15 (1) (a) and Section 16 (3) of the Fisheries Act 1985” he said adding that if convicted the boat skippers could be fined RM6 million while the crew, RM600,000 each, according to Section 25 (a) of the Fisheries Act 1985. — Bernama