Malaysia detains Vietnamese fishing boat off Terengganu

PETALING JAYA (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - A Vietnamese fishing vessel was detained for encroaching into Malaysian waters despite attempts by a Vietnamese enforcement agency boat to stop local authorities from effecting the arrest.

The Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) said that the boat from the Vietnam Fisheries Resources Surveillance made dangerous turnings near the MMEA vessel, KM Langkawi, which was responding to the encroachment by the fishing boat.

"The incident occurred at 9.48am, around 167 nautical miles north-east of Tanjong Mat Amin, Terengganu, on Wednesday (Sept 18).

"During the incident, a Vietnamese enforcement agency boat tried to prevent MMEA officers from arresting the fishermen by trying to get in between the seized boat."

"They also made dangerous turnings in front of KM Langkawi."

"They did so after KM Langkawi refused to release the seized fishing vessel which was found to have committed a heavy crime by encroaching into Malaysian waters to fish."

"However, the fishing boat was successfully seized by KM Langkawi despite the attempts," said MMEA deputy director-general (operations) Ibrahim Mohamed in a statement on Saturday.

Three Vietnamese fishermen were arrested and 9,000 litres of fuel as well as fishing equipment amounting to RM700,000 (S$230,000) were seized.

Both the boat and its crew were sent to the Kemaman maritime zone pier on Thursday.

The fishermen are being investigated for operating without a licence from the Fisheries Department and for not having valid identification documents.

"The MMEA has informed Wisma Putra of the incident," he said.

He added that the Vietnamese defence attache had been contacted to discuss the issue but the attache was unable to attend. The attache would instead be meeting a representative from the MMEA operations department next week.