The Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) has detained a total of six trawlers crewed entirely by Vietnamese nationals during separate operations against illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing over a span of two days.
An MMEA official confirmed that the agency apprehended four boats about 150 nautical miles east of the Kuala Terengganu oil exploration site on Thursday, April 25, and the remaining two around 50 nautical miles east of Kuala Terengganu on the following day.
The MMEA claimed that, in the latter operation, their patrol boat crews were compelled to fire warning shots after the Vietnamese fishermen continually ignored orders for them to shut off their engines.
The two boats seized on Friday were also said to have been using Malaysian registration numbers that were already in use by another pair of vessels, an act known as "cloning."
The 63 Vietnamese nationals who crewed the six detained vessels have since been taken into custody and brought to court to face charges of IUU fishing in Malaysian waters.
The apprehended fishermen were between the ages of 15 and 59, the MMEA added.