Authorities on Thursday reported that state naval troops apprehended seven crew members of a Vietnamese vessel for entering and fishing in waters off Turtle Islands, Tawi-Tawi.
In a statement, Naval Forces Western Mindanao public affairs officer Lt. Chester Ross Cabaltera disclosed that the crew is being held by police in Bongao, where the vessel is impounded.
Cabaltera narrated that members of the Marine Battalion Landing Team 6 and Turtle Islands Police were conducting maritime patrols on fastboats on Tuesday, when they chanced on the foreign vessel.
He added that upon inspection, the crew failed to present any document allowing them to enter Philippine waters.
The military identified the vessel’s occupants as boat captain Hunya Van Day and crew members Cao Van Mih, Lam Tang Hung, Huyuh Tuan Anh, Huyuh Van Cuong, Nguyen Ngoc Hoa and Vo Van Taun.
However, reports by the apprehending units did not indicate if there was any fish in the vessel, but Cabaltera said its crew members are being held for illegal fishing just the same.
“According to law, it is unlawful for any foreign person, corporation, or entity to fish or operate any fishing vessel in Philippine waters. Any entry shall constitute a prima facie evidence that the vessel is engaged in fishing within the country’s territorial waters,” Cabaltera said.
The vessel and its crew were first brought to the Turtle Islands Police Station and later turned over to the PNP Maritime Group’s office in Bongao.
Rear Adm. Toribio Adaci Jr., Naval Forces Western Mindanao commander, assured that Navy and Marines in the region will continue helping other law enforcement agencies maintain security in the seas.