Syndicates involved in Vietnamese vessel encroachment - MMEA

Syndicates involved in Vietnamese vessel encroachment - MMEA
In order to completely restrict the activity of Vietnamese fishermen encroaching Johor waters, Adon (pix) says MMEA requires additional personnel and assets that can help them perform their duties effectively. - Filepic
JOHOR BAHRU: The Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) does not deny the existence of international or local syndicates monitoring and managing the movement of Vietnamese fishermen encroaching Johor waters.

MMEA South Zone director, First Admiral Datuk Adon Shalan said this was based on the modus operandi of the Vietnamese fishermen during each encounter with maritime enforcement personnel in the area.

"If we look at the modus operandi, there is 'someone' helping to monitor the situation and coordinating the whole thing because we have received information..., when we are on our way back to the jetty after detaining a number of other vessels, suddenly there will be one or two more reports on encroachment by Vietnamese fishing vessels.

"It means there is something 'fishy' going on," he said in an interview with Bernama, here, recently.

Adon said the fishermen also had special 'agents' who helped them to defend themselves if they were arrested and charged in court here.
"The system is well organised with lawyers and so on. They are well acquainted with the laws of the country and the cases are dragged in court by these 'agents' to buy time.

"Sometimes, when we do not have concrete evidence such as photographs that show the fishing nets in the water, their lawyers can twist the case so that their clients can escape punishment," he said.

Adon said this was evident when the MMEA won only five cases in court since 2015 until May this year, while six cases were still under investigation.

All these cases involved 11 ships and 155 crew members.

Of these, four vessels were detained in 2015, two in 2016 and five this year up to May, with the seizure of fish worth RM241,192.

According to Adon, most of these fishermen have been active in Tanjung Sedili, Kota Tinggi and Pulau Aur, Mersing since both areas are rich in seafood resources.

"Upon entering national waters, they do not come alone, but in a group of at least 10 ships. That is why even if we can catch them, we can only detain one or two ships and not all because when they become aware of the MMEA boats they will flee.

"However, after a while, they'll come back," he said.

Hence, in order to completely restrict this activity, MMEA requires additional personnel and assets that can help them perform their duties effectively.

"With Johor's waters covering 14,334 square nautical miles, there is no doubt we need additional modern assets like speedboats, lightning boats and boats that have four to five engines that can reach speeds of up to 50 knots per hour," he said.