PORT KLANG: Seven fishing boats worth about RM20 million were seized by the marine police for fishing too close to the shoreline off Tanjung Karang early yesterday morning.
The boats, with a total crew of 111, are believed to have been fishing there for several hours before they were nabbed.
Marine police 1st Region commander Assistant Commissioner Rosman Ismail said the fishing boats had switched off all their lights and were operating in the dark to avoid detection.
“However, police radars picked up the vessels at about 1am and they sent out enforcement boats to investigate.”
Realising the presence of the marine police, the fishing boats tried to flee and were also trying to dump the caught fish but four of the boats were stopped from doing so after being surrounded.
Rosman said the vessels were all C class boats and were only allowed to operate after 15 nautical miles from the shore.
They were caught at a distance of less than five nautical miles from the shoreline.
All the seized vessels have been brought to the Port Klang marine police headquarters while waiting to be handed over to the Fisheries Department.
Speaking to the press at the headquarters here, Rosman said the seized boats were all Malaysian registered boats but most of the crew were foreigners.
Among the detained crew members are 70 Thais, 18 Cambodians, six Myanmars, six Indonesians and one Laotian.
The crew ages range from 23 to 51 years old and all the foreigners had valid passports.
Rosman said police found a combined total about four tonnes of fish worth about RM48,000 on four of the
boats, all of which were placed in crates and refrigerated.
“Three of the boats did not have any fish on them and they are believed to have dumped them overboard as we approached them. We found dead fish floating beside these three boats when we nabbed them.”
He said it was clear that they were trying to get rid of the evidence by dumping the fish.
He said they were being investigated for four offences.
First is for fishing in restricted waters for C class boats, second is for disposing evidence by dumping the fish overboard and the third is for not having proper life jackets and fire extinguishers.
They are also being investigated under the Multimedia and Communications Commission Act for illegally using communication radios.
Rosman said that when C class boats fish near the shoreline, they were depriving fishermen with smaller boats of their livelihood.
“This creates a potential crisis as it may trigger a clash between the fishermen. We need to stop this encroachment from happening and the marine police is trying its best to detect all forms of illegal fishing and practises.”