Special task force set up to handle illegal incursions by foreign fishermen

24 Apr 2019 / 17:33 H.

PUTRAJAYA: The Cabinet has set up a special task force involving several ministries and agencies to tackle illegal encroachment by foreign fishermen into Malaysian waters.

Home Affairs Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin said the ministries include Home Affairs, Defence, Agriculture and Agro-based Industry and Foreign Affairs.

“The agencies involved will be the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA), the Navy, the police, the fisheries department, the fishery development authority of Malaysia, Immigration Department, and the Malaysian Anti Corruption Commission (MACC),“ he said at a press conference at the ministry today.

Also present was Deputy Defence Minister Liew Chin Tong.

He said the task force was formed so that the related agencies could coordinate their operations and have more integrated movement to combat the encroachment effectively.

“Many of the illegal encroachment of fishing vessels seem to have come from Vietnam, and they don’t seem to respect international waters under Malaysian territory, so the task force was formed to counter that,“ he said.

Agriculture and Agro-based Industry Minister Datuk Salahuddin Ayub said there had been complaints from the fishing community, particularly in the east coast, of foreign fishermen encroaching into Malaysian waters especially during specific seasons, like the current squid season.

“We lose up to RM6 billion a year of sea produce just by allowing these foreign fishermen to illegally encroach into our waters,“ he said, adding that his ministry had not given any operating licences to foreign fishermen to operate on Malaysian waters.

He also said as many as 26 foreign vessels were caught this year alone, while the MMEA said they have detained 41 boats from Vietnam.

“We have also informed the Vietnamese authorities of this encroachment and we have a bilateral meeting with the Agriculture minister of Vietnam to look into this matter,“ he said.

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