Tougher action against encroachment by foreign fishermen

03 Jul 2019 / 18:24 H.

KUALA LUMPUR: The government has proposed tougher action against foreign fishermen who stray into Malaysian waters.

Agriculture and Agro-based Industries Minister Datuk Salahuddin Ayub said such action could include sinking their vessels and increased penalty for the captain and crew.

Provisions for the tougher measures are contained in a Bill to amend the Fisheries Act. They include raising the fines by six-fold to RM6 million for captains and RM600,000 for crew members.

“I also propose that their vessels be sunk and made into artificial reefs. Such action has been taken elsewhere and is appropriate,” said in response to a question from Datuk Halimah Mohamed Sadique (BN-Kota Tinggi) in the Dewan Rakyat today.

However, he said, vessels will only be sunked under court order.

Salahuddin said the goverment viewed illegal foreign fishing vessels, especially those from Vietnam, a serious problem.

He said these new measures will be apart from a joint operation codenamed Ops Naga already undertaken jointly by the Home, Defence, Foreign Affairs as well as Agriculture and Agro-based Industries Ministries.

He said 52 illegal foreign fishing vessels and their crew were nabbed in the three-month operation.

Earlier, Salahuddin said a total of 1,182 foreign fishing vessels had been detained over a 12-year period, of which 706 were from Vietnam.

Last week, the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) impounded two Vietnamese fishing boats with about five tonnes of fish some 140 nautical miles north of Kuching.

MMEA Sarawak operations deputy director Maritime Commander Hamiludin Che Awang said the boats had a haul of about five tonnes of fish and also carried about 10,000 litres of diesel.

The skippers and 19 crew members were arrested and investigated under Section 15 (1) (a) of the Fisheries Act 1985.

Hamiludin pointed out that there had been eight cases of encroachment so far this year.

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