In­ci­dent high­lights threat from en­croach­ing for­eign fish­er­men

New Straits Times - - News -

KOTA TINGGI: The case of the nine Royal Malaysian Navy sailors who went miss­ing while on op­er­a­tions against il­le­gal fish­er­men high­lights the threat posed by these for­eign­ers who have been en­croach­ing on Tan­jung Sedili wa­ters for five years.

Lo­cal fish­er­men said they have had to put up with threats from un­couth Viet­namese and Thai fish­er­men who are af­fect­ing their liveli­hoods.

Tan­jung Sedili Area Fish­er­men As­so­ci­a­tion chair­man Ma­jid Ab­dul Rah­man said many for­eign­ers on for­eign-reg­is­tered boats used trawler nets and did not care about the smaller Malaysian boats around them.

“There have been cases of Viet­namese fish­er­men on trawler boats en­croach­ing on Malaysian wa­ters over the last four to five years. These fish­er­men threaten our fish­er­men and they are ku­rang ajar (un­couth) be­cause they trawl through the wa­ters and barge through our ar­eas while smaller boats have to make way for them.

“These Viet­namese do not care for the law as they are only do­ing it for the money. They don’t care about any life. They act like they own the place and they are dis­re­spect­ful,” he said.

Ma­jid said about 500 lo­cal fish­er­men and crew work in the wa­ters be­tween Pu­lau Pe­mang­gil, Pu­lau Aur and Pu­lau Tinggi in north­east Johor and De­saru in south­east Johor.

Fish­er­man Bidin Su­long, 57, said he spot­ted 12 Viet­namese trawler boats in Sedili wa­ters on May 12 and re­ported the mat­ter to the Malaysian Mar­itime En­force­ment Agency (MMEA).

“I phoned the MMEA when I spot­ted the Viet­namese ves­sels about 9am and they went to check on them. They usu­ally come in groups and lay their nets. The MMEA is fast to act, but some­times these Viet­namese boats will cut their trawler nets and leave them be­hind. This makes it hard for the au­thor­i­ties to nab them with ev­i­dence,” he said.

Bidin echoed Ma­jid’s sen­ti­ments. He said there had been nu­mer­ous in­stances when Malaysian fish­er­men have had to avoid the large Viet­namese boats.

“Pre­vi­ously, these Viet­namese fish­er­men were star­ing us down and tak­ing off their shirts to show off when we meet them at sea.”

Bidin said the nets of lo­cal fish­er­men were be­ing dam­aged by the for­eign­ers’ trawler nets. “There were in­stances when I in­curred losses of be­tween RM1,000 and RM3,000 due to dam­age to my bubu and un­jang nets which were scooped up when the Viet­namese fish­er­men used their deep sea trawler nets,” he said.

Ma­jid said, based on their ex­pe­ri­ence, the miss­ing navy per­son­nel could have en­coun­tered bad weather, col­lided with an­other ves­sel or been caught in a for­eign boat’s trawler net.

“A trawler net can mea­sure up to 100m in length and it is fas­tened be­tween two boats.”

Some of the for­eign trawler boats that were seized in Tan­jung Sedili, Johor.

PIX BY MOHD AZREN JA­MALUDIN

Tan­jung Sedili Area Fish­er­men As­so­ci­a­tion chair­man Ma­jid Ab­dul Rah­man (left) says for­eign fish­er­men have been en­croach­ing on Malaysian wa­ters for the last four to five years. With him is board mem­ber Mustafa Muhamad.

Bidin Su­long

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