KUCHING - Crew members of a locally registered vessel were caught brazenly pumping subsidised diesel into the ship's tanks from a jetty, within sight of officers at the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency's (MMEA) Sarawak base in Muara Tebas here.
District operations MMEA director Shahref Steve Mac Queen Abdullah said the illegal activity took place near a cove less than a kilometre away from the base.
Muara Tebas is a fishing village near the Borneo Convention Centre, and is about 30km from the city centre.
He said MMEA enforcement officers chased the vessel after it departed from the jetty.
"We caught three foreigners in the ship.
"Quite frankly, they were just asking for trouble," he said, adding that investigations are underway on the vessel and its crew.
Shahref said the 11,000 litres of subsidised diesel seized were stored in modified containers that resembled fish storage boxes.
"The diesel recovered is estimated to be worth RM13,200. This is our first such case this year," he added.
Shahref also said so far this year, the MMEA had checked 2,403 vessels, of which 59 were caught committing various offences.
Of the 59 vessels, 31 were caught in the state's southern region, while another 23 were found in the north.
"This is a reduction of cases compared to a peak of 188 cases recorded in 2010," he added.