Malaysia sets illegal fishing boats afire

KUALA LUMPUR, 30 Aug 2017:

For the very first time, Malaysia today set fire to a foreign boat – for fishing illegally in its waters – as it turns up the heat on trespassing trawlers.

Porous maritime borders are a constant problem for Malaysia and its Southeast Asian neighbours, which struggle to keep foreign fishing vessels from operating illegally in their waters.

In early 2016, more than 100 Chinese fishing vessels were detected off Sarawak, while in April Indonesia sank 81 mostly foreign boats caught illegally fishing in its waters.

The boat was set fire at sea off the coast of the northern state of Kelantan, the first time Malaysian authorities have resorted to such action, according to the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA).

The MMEA did not specify the boat’s country of origin.

“This method shows how seriously the MMEA views incursions by foreign fishing boats in Malaysian waters,” the MMEA deputy director-general of operations Rear Admiral Datuk Mohd Taha Ibrahim said in a statement.

Mohd Taha said Malaysian authorities had so far sunk 285 foreign fishing vessels nationwide to create artificial reefs – but said the method has not made a “deep impact” on foreign fishermen operating illegally in Malaysian waters.

“The MMEA will continue to ramp up our surveillance and patrols to clamp down on crimes committed out at sea.”

– Reuter

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