Vietnam fishing syndicate ‘may have Malaysian help’

Posted By Stop Illegal Fishing:7th Aug, 2017: MCS · Vessel arrests and detention

A VIETNAMESE syndicate is allegedly exploiting loopholes in the country’s maritime law to plunder Sabah’s fish stock – with Malaysian help.

Sabah and Labuan Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) regional director Rear Admiral Mohd Zubil Mat Som said the agency did not deny that the syndicate had “cloned” registered boats by painting its own vessels with legitimate permit numbers and having copies of valid licences.

However, he said, MMEA, during its patrols and fishing boat checks, had never spotted two vessels with the same registration number.

“After eight months of studying the movement of Vietnam-registered vessels, we noticed several things that raise questions.

 

“Where do the vessels land their fish? During our observation, we never spotted any of the vessels at local landing jetties.

“Are they transferring their catch in international waters or do they just return to Vietnam?

“We also noticed that they were not getting fuel subsidies from local ports.”

On the recent seizure of fishing vessels crewed by Vietnamese nationals near Pulau Mengalum, Zubil said the boats were supposedly registered as SBF30 and SBF31, but checks revealed that they were actually registered as SBF28 and SBF29.

He said the skippers could be fined up to RM1 million, with an additional RM100,000 for each crew member, upon conviction.

“What we are trying to figure out is how the operators were able to obtain the registration numbers,” he said, adding that there was a possibility that Malaysians had provided the information needed to the syndicate to allow it to operate in Malaysian waters.

State Fisheries Department statistics show that currently, there are 13 Sabah-owned firms issued with permits for 31 Vietnamese vessels, as well as crew members.

Zubil said between last year and this year, eight Vietnamese vessels and crews had been arrested, but they were only slapped with a small fine of RM500.

He said their offences included carrying out fishing activities beyond what was allowed under their licences, such as dive-fishing or carrying out trawling when only in possession of a long-line fishing permit.

Source: The Malaysian Insight 

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