The Johor state division of Malaysia Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) on Wednesday (31 March) reported the results of its ‘Ops Jangka Haram’, a special operation to crack down on foreign vessels anchored illegally in eastern Johor waters.
‘Ops Jangka Haram’ was launched when the MMEA discovered that waters east of Johor has become a “hotspot” for foreign vessels to anchor illegally and conduct unlawful activities such as illegally releasing oil into the ocean. In a single sweep, the patrol team detected 105 vessels anchoring illegally.
It was conducted over seven days from 24 to 30 March and involved five of MMEA’s ships, four patrol teams, two helicopters and two teams from the Special Task and Rescue Force (PTK).
“The location is attractive to these vessels as the waters are deep enough for them to anchor as they wait to enter a port lay-up as operating procedures for the shipping industry have changed due to Covid-19 related issues,” said the MMEA.
“However, the vessels are meant to pay an anchoring fee should they choose to anchor in the area and the number of illegal vessels pose a threat to the safety of the community as well as the environment.”
In total, MMEA reported it has detained 18 vessels, almost all of which are foreign flagged vessels. After being warned by the patrol team, nine vessels chose to pay the anchorage fee, and 71 other vessels left the area.
At present, the MMEA is waiting on a decision by the Malaysian Marine Department as to which course of action is to be taken for seven remaining vessels that ‘stubbornly’ choose to remain. The detained vessels will be brought to court for further investigations under the Merchant Shipping Ordinance 1952.
While ‘Ops Jangka Haram’ managed to effectively curb the number of vessels anchored illegally in eastern Johor waters, MMEA said it believes this to be a potentially recurring issue as the area is a high traffic location with merchant vessels and passenger ferries crossing the Singapore Strait.
Therefore, it plans to propose the following including some collaborations with neighbouring countries to manage the security of the region in a ‘holistic’ way:
A series of earlier MMEA detentions have been reported by Manifold Times (below):
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Photo credit: MMEA
Published: 1 April, 2021
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