December 10, 2019 23:15

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Smuggled petroleum over the sea may originate from piracy

14:33 | 05/08/2019

VCN - Foreign petroleum tanker ships often carry out illegal ship-to-ship transfers of petroleum for Vietnam's converted fishing vessels and cargo ships

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The Coast Guard discovered and handled an illegal transport of petroleum

Illegal ship-to-ship transfers of petroleum at night

The Coast Guard has achieved positive results in the fight against smuggling, trade fraud and illegal transportation of goods on the sea, especially petroleum smuggling.

In the first six months of 2019, the Coast Guard detected and handled 21 ships and 116 offenders and seized 1.7 million litres of DO oil and 5.3 million litres of A95 petrol.

Most arrests took place offshore, especially waters far beyond 100 nautical miles off the coast.

On March 9, in the southwest of Con Dao area, the Coast Guard seized a Singaporean ship consisting of 19 seafarers and a Vietnamese ship consisting of 11 seafarers who committed an illegal ship-to-ship transfer of petroleum in Vietnam's waters.

According to Deputy Commander of the Coast Guard Tran Van Nam, petroleum smuggling in remote areas bordering Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand; Southwest sea area is a problem.

Foreign petroleum tanker ships often carry out illegal ship-to-ship transfers of petroleum for Vietnam's converted fishing vessels and cargo ships.

At night when visibility is limited, offenders often sail ships into foreign waters.

On the other hand, during the day, offenders often drive ships to adjacent areas or to Vietnamese waters to sell petroleum to Vietnam’s ships.

The price of petroleum at sea is only two-thirds of the retail price, bringing high profit, while the number of offshore fishing vessels is increasing and mainly use DO oil.

Taking advantage of this, there are those who have bought and sold petroleum illegally at sea to sell directly to fishermen.

This act of smugglers not only violates economic management rules but also affects business activities, infringing upon Vietnam's sovereignty and national jurisdiction over the sea.

Tricks are increasingly dangerous

"The Coast Guard said that this fuel may be gained from piracy,” Tran Van Nam said.

Notably, there were cases, in addition to petroleum, where the Coast Guard seized guns and the bullets, showing the dangerous side of the smugglers.

Therefore, if the competent force does not introduce repressive measures, casualties are unavoidable.

"To criminally handle the crime of smuggling, we must prove the factor of cross-border transport of goods. However, the sea border has a boundary of territorial sea and an exclusive economic zone of 200 nautical miles, so it is very difficult to impose criminal sanctions but only administrative sanctions,” Nam said.

In Decree No. 42 regulating administrative sanction in the fisheries sector, it will impose "heavy" penalties on vehicles which do not install IS surveillance equipment, which is a favourable condition to stop Vietnamese fishing vessels sailing into foreign waters for illegal trading.

Nam said this new regulation will help forces control the use of converted fishing vessels to illegally trade petroleum in adjacent waters.

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In the future, the Coast Guard will strengthen the control and law enforcement over the sea, especially in remote areas and adjacent areas.

Another goal is strengthening the coordination with other forces at sea (Police, Customs, Border Guard) in the fight against smuggling.

By Quang Hung/ Huyen Trang