Malaysia seizes six Chinese fishing vessels, arrests 60 off eastern Johor

KOTA TINGGI (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - The Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) has detained six illegal Chinese fishing vessels in waters east of Johor and hauled up the 60 people who were on board.

MMEA's Tanjung Sedili zone director, Captain Mohd Zulfadli Nayan, said the vessels from Qinhuangdao, China, were spotted at two separate locations during an agency operation at around 9am on Friday (Oct 9).

"We had earlier received a tip-off from the Johor Port Authority about the trespassing vessels. Our patrolling squad then found the vessels near 2.1 nautical miles and 2.3 nautical miles and three of them were found hovering near one another," he said.

He added that altogether, the vessels were carrying six captains and 54 crewmen, who are all China nationals and are aged between 31 and 60.

Mr Zulfadli said that all 60 were arrested after failing to produce permits from the authorities to conduct activities as well as to anchor in Malaysian waters, adding that the vessels were also detained at the Tanjung Sedili MMEA for investigations.

"Foreign fishing vessel managers and agents are advised to obtain the valid permits from the Fisheries Department before conducting any activities in our waters, including repairs and petrol transferring, " he said.

The case is being investigated under a section of the Fisheries Act for failing to report to the department for entering into state waters, which carries a fine of not more than RM6 million (nearly S$2 million) and RM600,000 for each crew member on board.

Mr Zulfadli added that the case was also being investigated under a section of the Merchant Shipping Ordinance for illegal anchoring, which carries a fine of up to RM100,000 or jail, or both, upon conviction.