A Singapore-registered fishing vessel and its four crew members have been detained in Malaysia for alleged illegal fishing in its waters.
The Agri-Food & Veterinary Authority (AVA) on Thursday (May 28) confirmed the incident.
“We are aware that an AVA-licensed fishing vessel, SMF1195, has been detained by the Malaysian authorities,” an AVA spokesperson said, in response to queries from Channel 8 News.
“Singapore understands that the fishing vessel was in Singapore waters when it was first approached by the Malaysian authorities. Singapore has registered our concerns with Malaysia over this incident and is in contact with the Malaysian authorities.”
The vessel's owner, Lian Yak Fish Merchant, said the boat was about four nautical miles off Pedra Branca at 6am on Tuesday, when it was approached by a Malaysian patrol boat. The fishing vessel was later detained at Kota Tinggi in Johor.
Lian Yak Fish Merchant also said the three Malaysian officials had boarded the fishing vessel and told them to head towards Sedili in Kota Tinggi. “We arrived the next day, and the crew members were detained without bail,” the company said.
Lian Yak Fish Merchant added that the vessel was probably not in Malaysian waters, as it had been fishing in the area for more than 40 years, and even though it had misunderstandings previously, they were resolved.
“Our vessels are equipped with global positioning systems so their locations are clearly indicated. The crew wouldn’t enter Malaysian waters. They also recorded their position at that time, and they are very clear of where they are,” the company's business development manager explained.
The four crew members are foreigners between the ages of 36 and 62, and they are slated to appear in court next Tuesday, the firm added.