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Captured fishing vessels were pirate boats

Two foreign fishing vessels captured by the Maldivian Coast Guard last week were pirate boats, the defence minister has said.

Adam Shareef made the remarks during a training course closing ceremony on the military island of Girifushi. He commended the coast guard for showing courage and taking full control of the pirates spotted in Maldivian waters.

The two vessels were travelling from Somalia to Thailand, Mihaaru reported the Maldives National Defence Force as saying.

One was intercepted Thursday night, the MNDF said in a statement. It was flying a Somali flag, had a crew of 10 Thai people and 200 tons of tuna. The second also had a Somali flag and a Thai crew. It was carrying 250 tons of tuna.

Yellowfin tuna prices were US$9 per kilogram and skipjack tuna prices averaged US$1,530 per ton in 2016, according to fisheries ministry data.

In November, the coast guard intercepted and seized two Sri Lankan fishing vessels from Maldivian waters, along with 10 Sri Lankan crew members.

A fisheries ministry report said hundreds of foreign fishing vessels were operating illegally in Maldivian seas every year.

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