The Terengganu state division of Malaysia Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) on Monday (24 August) reportedly detained three bunker tankers which they believe were illegally selling bunker fuel to Vietnamese fishermen in the Terengganu territory of the South China Sea.
MMEA estimates the value of the vessels and the fuel onboard to be worth MYR 7.5 million (USD 1.8 million) and reports a total of 33 crew onboard the vessels, eight of whom are Thai and the remaining Cambodian.
The tankers were discovered by patrol vessel KM Langkawi’s team on Thursday (20 August) about 130 nautical miles from Kuala Kemaman.
“MMEA had previously received some reports of tankers that sail through Terengganu waters to sell bunker fuel to Vietnamese fishermen who are fishing illegally in Malaysia,” said Maritime Captain Muhammad Suffi Mohd Ramli, MMEA Director of Terengganu.
According to the MMEA, the first vessel is registered in Thailand, carried 2,500 litres of diesel, and had 15 Thai and Cambodian crew onboard.
The second vessel is a Mongolian flagged tanker carrying 500,000 litres of diesel and was manned by nine Thai and Cambodian crew.
The third tanker had no registration number or name but the MMEA believes it to be registered in Thailand. It was found carrying 3,000 litres of diesel and had MYR 700 (USD 168) and THB 9,500 (USD 303) in cash.
“We have also discovered a log book detailing each sale transaction to the Vietnamese fishermen onboard the second tanker,” added Captain Muhammad Suffi.
“All three vessels and crew members have been brought to MMEA Kemaman base jetty for further investigations”.
The case will be investigated under Section 361(1) of the Merchant Shipping Ordinance 1952 and if convicted carries a minimum fine of MYR 200,000 or a maximum jail term of two years, or both.
Photo Credit: One News
Published: 26 August, 2020
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