The Johor state division of Malaysia Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) on Monday (22 March) said it has discovered 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, reports Berita Harian.
The three hotspots include the Tompok Utara anchorage area, Eastern Bank (Permatang Timur) and the Ramunia Shoal.
MMEA explained the western coastal area is less ideal for such vessels as the straits is narrow and it is part of the main vessel route along the Straits of Malacca.
“Many of these vessels stay for a long period of time and try to avoid paying for an anchorage permit by anchoring illegally,” said Johor Maritime Director Nurul Hizam Zakaria.
“During their stay, these vessels often conduct other unlawful activities such as illegal oil transfers, releasing waste into the waters and unauthorized crew changes.
“There are also reports of such vessels utilising these spots as a transit location to smuggle migrants.”
In the past year alone, 23 vessels were detained and 18 of these cases were compounded under Section 491B(1)(L) of the Merchant Shipping Ordinance 1952 for anchoring without a permit.
Maritime Director Hizam added these vessels pose a risk to the health of marine life as well as to the navigational safety of other vessels as they could cause collisions.
“Companies and shipowners have to cooperate with the relevant authorities to make it accessible to conduct operations and to take action in case of any emergencies,” noted Maritime Director Hizam.
Separately, the Marine Department of Malaysia said it had detected about 100 foreign vessels anchoring illegally in the Tompok Utara anchorage area, about 12 kilometres from Sedili Kecil beach on Saturday and was immediately concerned about possible illegal oil spills.
An oil spill was detected by the department around 7.40 pm on Saturday, 20 March and estimates it to be 6 kilometres long.
The Marine Department then partnered with MMEA to conduct investigations on Sunday but it was inconclusive as it is believed the spill has been moved by the ocean’s waves.
Nevertheless, the Department said it will continue its investigations via drones to get a better aerial view of the area.
A series of earlier MMEA detentions have been reported by Manifold Times (below):
Related: MMEA detains Liberian registered tanker for allegedly anchoring illegally in Perak
Related: MMEA detains Panama registered tanker for allegedly anchoring illegally in Selangor
Related: MMEA detains Thailand registered tanker for allegedly anchoring illegally in Selangor
Related: MMEA detains Singapore flagged tanker suspected of illegal oil transfers in Selangor
Related: MMEA detains Panama flagged tanker for anchoring illegally in eastern Johor
Related: Malaysia: MMEA detains loaded oil tanker for allegedly anchoring illegally in Perak
Related: MMEA detains tanker ‘MT Tahiti’ in Malacca waters for anchoring without a permit
Related: MMEA detains St Kitts & Nevis registered tanker for anchoring illegally in eastern Johor
Related: MMEA detains Malaysia & Mongolia registered tankers for anchoring illegally in Johor
Related: Malaysia: MMEA detains tanker for anchoring without a permit in southeastern Johor
Photo credit: Marine Department of Malaysia
Published: 22 March, 2021
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