Malaysia burns foreign trawler to curb illegal fishing

Malaysian maritime authorities have publicly set fire to a foreign fishing boat for the first time in a move to deter illegal fishing in its waters.

The Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency says authorities had previously quietly sunk 285 foreign fishing boats nationwide to create artificial reefs but the method failed to attract attention and curb illegal fishing.

It said the boat was set ablaze at sea Wednesday off northern Kelantan state, the first time authorities took the public step to stave off incursions by foreign trawlers. It didn't say where the boat was from.

Mohamad Taha Ibrahim, the agency's deputy director-general of operations, said Wednesday the burning and sinking of the boat was aimed at "sending a clear message" that the government is serious in battling illegal fishing.