KOTA KINABALU: The state government urges the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) to increase enforcement to prevent Vietnamese fishermen from entering Sabah waters.
Yesterday, Minister of Agriculture and Food Industry Junz Wong said that local fishermen had expressed concern about the presence and observation of Vietnamese fishing boats in the Sabah waters, especially on the waters at Kuala Penyu.
"This (the infestation) not only affects our catch but can also destroy our marine natural ecology, such as the coral reefs," he said yesterday.
In this context Junz insisted on the need for the MMEA to place their assets in coastal areas that are often affected by foreign boats, thus protecting the livelihood of local fishermen.
He cited records stating that at the moment 11 local operators with 51 deep sea fishing vessels with permit from Sabah Fisheries Department were operating actively in the Sabah waters.
He said from the MMEA reports that five Vietnamese vessels had so far been held in Sabah waters with a punishment, while the rest went through a legal process.
Junz warned that according to the Sabah Fisheries Act 1985, foreign ships that are detained in Malaysian waters could be fined RM1 million for boat owner or skipper, and RM100,000 for each crew member, while the ship could be seized for disposal.