Malaysia seizes two fishing boats, arrests 19 Vietnamese for illegal fishing

By VnExpress   April 14, 2017 | 05:16 pm GMT+7

The fishermen face fines of up to $22,600 each, while the captains could have to pay ten times that amount.

Malaysian authorities have seized two Vietnamese fishing boats and arrested 19 crew members for illegally fishing in Malaysia's territorial waters, VietnamPlus reported on Friday.

The boats were intercepted and seized at around 3p.m. on April 11 about 28 nautical miles northeast off the coast of Malaysia's Johor Province, the news site quoted Amran Daud, director of the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA), as saying.

Amran said none of the fishermen, aged 15 to 52, were carrying valid identification documents.

"We found 10 tons of fish and 150kg (330lbs) of dried cuttlefish on-board. Neither of the vessels had a valid permit to fish in this area," said the director.

The value of the catch, boats and other equipment was estimated at about 500,000 Malaysian ringgit ($113,000).

The boats were towed to a port in Malaysia's Tanjung Sedili region, before being handed over to the MMEA.

If convicted, the Vietnamese fishermen could be fined  MYR100,000 ($22,600) each, while the ships' captains may be fined up to MYR1 million.

Vietnamese fishermen are often caught fishing illegally in foreign waters.

In February, Australian authorities seized two fishing vessels and 29 Vietnamese fishermen for straying into its waters. Last December, Malaysia also seized a Vietnamese vessel with 12 fishermen on board for operating in its exclusive economic zone.

To prevent illegal fishing, Vietnam’s Fisheries Resources Surveillance Department is trying to raise awareness about maritime boundaries and international maritime laws, and conducts frequent patrols.