PASIR PUTEH: The Kelantan Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) has seized four boats and arrested 31 Vietnamese fishermen for illegally fishing in Malaysian waters.

Its director Maritime Captain Syed Nor Adli Syed Ab Rahman (pix) said they were arrested during two operations conducted on Monday (March 20) and Wednesday (March 22).

“During the first operation, two boats were detained at 3.45 pm and 4 pm, respectively, about 64 nautical miles off the Tok Bali estuary.

“The first boat was manned by five crew members including the skipper while the second boat was operated by two crewmen,” he said at Kelantan MMEA headquarters at Tok Bali here today.

Syed Nor Adli said on Wednesday, MMEA’s patrol ship KM Jujur intercepted two more Vietnamese fishing boats as a result of information channelled by a Royal Malaysian Air Force (RMAF) maritime patrol aircraft team.

According to him, the first boat was detained at 8.45 am some 180 nautical miles off the Tok Bali estuary while the second boat was detained at 10.57 am, about 170 nautical miles from the same estuary.

He said the boats and 18 Vietnamese nationals were then taken to the Kelantan Maritime jetty.

Syed Nor Adli said all 31 crew members detained, aged between 14 and 64, also failed to produce valid identification documents and inspections found that the four boats did not have permits to carry out fishing activities under the Fisheries Act 1985.

“We also seized fishing equipment, 1,000 kg of fish and 9,200 litres of diesel found on the boats. The total value of the seized items is estimated to be around RM4.2 million,” he said.

Meanwhile, Syed Nor Adli said the Kelantan MMEA had disposed of four Vietnamese fishing boats forfeited by courts by sinking them and turning them into artificial reef 5.3 nautical miles from Kuala Besar, Kota Bharu on March 21.

He said the boats were seized during Op Naga Barat, Op Kuda Laut and Op Damai conducted in 2021 and 2022. - Bernama