4 Singapore fishermen and their ship were arrested by Malaysian marine police in Singapore waters at about 6AM on Tuesday. Singapore’s Foreign Affairs ministry has registered its “concerns” with Malaysia over this illegal detention.
In a statement to the media, the Agri-Food & Veterinary Authority (AVA) confirmed that the ship, SMF1195, was detained by the Malaysian police on Tuesday for alleged “illegal fishing in Malaysian waters”. The fishing ship was impounded at Kota Tinggi in Johor.
According to the company which owns the fishing ship, Lian Yak Fish Merchant, the ship was detained about 4 nautical miles off Pedra Branca. 3 Malaysian officials boarded the fishing ship and told them to head towards Sedili in Kota Tinggi, where crew members were detained without bail.
The company maintains that it was not fishing in Malaysian waters, as it had been fishing in the area for more than 40 years and would know the difference in boundaries. Although it had been approached by Malaysian police in the past, these incidents had been 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 spokesperson said.
The 4 crew members are slated to appear in a Malaysian court next Tuesday, where they will face charges under Malaysian law.