Action will be taken against Vietnamese fishermen over giant clams

Dozens of giant clams weighing nearly 20 tonnes were seized from nine Vietnamese fishermen at the Mengalum Island in Malaysia.

KOTA KINABALU - Sabah's Lands and Surveys Department will be taking action against nine Vietnamese fishermen caught harvesting 20 tonnes of dead rare giant clams from the seabed around Pulau Mengalum, about 55km from here.

Apparently, the state Fisheries Department could not take action against the fishermen as the clams were dead.

The fishermen were arrested last Thursday by Sabah Marine Police about one nautical mile from Pulau Mengalum.

The haul of clams on the fishing trawler is estimated to be worth about RM500,000 (S$193,000).

The fishermen, who work for a Sabah-Vietnam joint venture company based here, were initially handed to the state Fisheries Department, which then passed the case to the Lands and Surveys Department.

Sabah Lands and Surveys Department director Datuk Osman Jamal said investigations were being carried out under Section 168 of the Land Ordinance as the fishermen did not have a permit to extract clams from the area.

Also being investigated was whether the fishermen, aged between 20 and 40, were collecting the clams without the knowledge of their company.

It remains a puzzle why the Fisheries Department declined to take action in the first place.