Malaysian authorities have seized a fishing boat and detained eight Vietnamese nationals for alleged illegal fishing in Malaysian waters, the New Straits Times reported.
The boat was intercepted near Pulau Gaya Island, northwest of Malaysia’s Sabah Province, on Monday evening, the report quoted a statement from the provincial unit of Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) as saying.
Adam Aziz, director of Kota Kinabalu MMEA, said the detained crew are aged between 20 to 35. Upon checking, the Malaysian authorities found that all their work permits had expired since the end of last year.
“Further checks showed that the fishing boat’s licence too had expired. The team then seized various types of fresh fish weighing about 200kg (440 lbs), and dried fish of about 50kg on the boat,” said Aziz.
The boat, which was also found to be using illegal fishing equipment, along with its crew, was brought back to Kota Kinabalu for further investigations.
It was not immediately clear if the detainees had been permitted to work in Malaysia’ fishing industry previously.
Hundreds of Vietnamese fishermen have been arrested in recent years in the waters of nearby countries, including Brunei, Cambodia, Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines, for similar allegations.
Malaysia has detained 22 Vietnamese and seized their boats for illegal fishing in two separate incidents in March and earlier this month. Last December another 12 Vietnamese were also arrested in Malaysia for similar offense.
In February, Australian authorities seized two fishing vessels and 29 Vietnamese fishermen for straying into its waters.
Vietnam’s Fisheries Resources Surveillance Department is trying to raise awareness about maritime boundaries and international maritime laws, and conducts frequent patrols to prevent potential violations.