|Picture by Suhaidi Mohd Ami (New Straits Times)|
According to a New Straits Times report, 26 foreign fishermen, who authorities believe are from Vietnam, have been using fake registration plates on their boats and flying Malaysian flags to avoid detection.
But they have been apprehended by the Fisheries Department for questioning. The illegal fishermen, who cannot even speak Malay, were on two boats and were caught about 20 nautical miles from Pulau Tenggol, of Dungun in Terengganu.
Department director Abdul Khali Abdul Karim was quoted by the paper as saying: "The fishermen did not notice that they were being trailed by our officers as they were preoccupied in netting their catch.
"When our officers boarded the vessels, all of them were unable to speak Bahasa Malaysia, and they only possessed Vietnamese fishing licences."
The fishermen could be prosecuted under Section 15(1)(a) of the Fisheries Act 1985 for catching fish in Malaysian waters without a permit, which carries a maximum jail term of six months and a fine not exceeding RM1 million if convicted.
Dungun is about 200 kilometres south of Kuala Besut, where our boat is moored. However, you can be sure that we are 100 per cent legal. Our captain, Yahya bin Ngah is a Besut man and has his fisherman’s license. We are currently going through the processes of licensing the boat and Yahya for the 2012 season and we will not entertain tourists until all documents are finalised by the proper authorities.
We have received plenty of inquiries for our trips, which start in April. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org to book your trip. If you book on or before February 29 2012, we will throw in free homestay for the duration of your trip. So contact us now!