KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 3 Maritime authorities believe the country's best seafood catches are being covertly snapped up by a foreign syndicate using local fishermen as fronts to fish in Malaysian waters.

Berita Harian reported that this syndicate would supply foreign labour and funds to local fishermen, in return for the best catches of the day.

In the east coast of the peninsula, the syndicate also allegedly uses Vietnamese crews with local fishing permits. But instead of ferrying their catches to shore, these crews allegedly transfer their haul to a foreign vessel instead.

Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) director general Maritime Admiral Datuk Seri Zulkifli Abu Bakar said such syndicates use many cunning tactics to avoid the authorities.

These included sending a fleet of up to 10 ships in which one or two are allowed to be captured as decoys while the remainder continue with their activities, before regrouping to help deal with the captured colleagues later.

"They also used clone fishing boats where they use false registration numbers, paint their boats to look like a local one and fly the Malaysian flag. This disguise is normally used in Pahang, Kuala Terengganu, Sarawak and Sabah," Abu Bakar reportedly said.

He also explained that the foreign fishing fleet often travel in groups.

Source:    The Malay Mail Online

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