Hundreds of tiger sharks seized as cops foil illegal fishing off Sabah

KM Arau commanding officer Mohd Zawawi Abdullah telling reporters of the 5-tonne seizure.

KOTA KINABALU: Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) personnel seized about five tonnes of marine life, including 230 live tiger sharks, from three foreign trawlers off Sabah this week.

KM Arau commanding officer Mohd Zawawi Abdullah said they also detained 34 crewmen from the fishing vessels during a three-day operation from Monday.

He said one of the boats was detected about 20 nautical miles off Mengalum island, which is near the country’s marine border, and the other two about 15 nautical miles off the same island.

The first boat carried 19 Vietnamese who had no valid fishing licence while the other two boats had licences but all the crews were Vietnamese.

Two of the crewmen did not have proper papers.

“After a check, we found the marine life including the live tiger sharks kept in modified water tanks,” Zawawi told reporters in Sepanggar near here today.

A Vietnamese crewman (left) holding up the live tiger sharks found on the foreign trawler.

He said the fishermen were being questioned on whether they intended to harvest the sharks for their fins or other reasons since they kept the creatures alive.

The case is being investigated under the Fisheries Act 1985 and Wildlife Protection Act 1972, he added.