KOTA KINABALU: Vietnamese fishermen are now targeting sea cucumbers apart from other seafood in Malaysian waters especially in Kudat.
State Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) deputy operations director captain Asmawati Mohd Tujeri said the agency was aware that there was a change of trend with foreign fishermen now focusing on the species.
She described the rampant catching of sea cucumbers during its recent arrests as worrying as the activity would destroy the marine ecosystem.
"We notice that the foreign vessels did not only take our fish but also aiming for the species.
"This is serious as they used metals along the seabed to take those sea cucumbers which would damage coral reefs,” she said.
Asmawati was speaking to reporters during the Sabah and Labuan Shooting tournament and Media Appreciation at the Sepanggar Navy base, near here, yesterday.
She added the activity also caused irreversible condition to coral reefs.
"If we do not prevent such activities, we would probably have to wait until the next generation to see them again,” she said, adding legal action should be taken against these Vietnamese fishermen.
Between Jan and early July, there were six cases involving more than 40 Vietnamese caught obtaining sea cucumbers illegally especially off Kudat waters.