Wednesday, 22nd February 2017

Over 90 Ships Sunk By Indonesia Until Mid-October 2015

29th October 2015 | 4.716 Views
Jakarta (Antara News)- Indonesia has incurred material losses and environmental damage due to illegal fishing activities mostly conducted by foreign fishing boats in its maritime territory.

Therefore, Indonesia has vowed to impose stringent sanctions against the perpetrators of the crimes to serve as a deterrent to other poachers.

This year alone, until mid-October, Indonesian authorities have sunk at least 91 foreign fishing ships caught poaching in Indonesian waters as the fight against illegal fishing activities in its maritime territory continues.

Of the total, some 54 ships have been destroyed by the maritime affairs and fisheries ministry, and the Indonesian Navy has sunk 49 ships, according to Abdur Rouf Sam, the secretary of the ministrys directorate general for fishery and maritime resources supervision.

Some 117 ships are currently being processed legally either by the ministry, Navy, or other parties.

Most of the ships were caught around South China Sea or in the waters of Natuna and Arafura, he said at Sungai Rengas seaport, Pontianak, West Kalimantan, recently, after observing the sinking of some ships.

Four Vietnamese ships were among those sunk on Oct. 19 in Pontianak. When apprehended by the authorities for poaching in Indonesian waters, two were carrying five tons each of fish aboard, while the two others had 230 kilograms each.

Of the three foreign fishing boats recently captured for allegedly violating fishing licensing regulations while operating in Indonesian waters, two are from the Philippines and one from Malaysia.

The Philippines-flagged fishing boats were nabbed by the Indonesian warship KRI Sultan Hasanuddin-366 in Sulawesi waters on October 21, 2015, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Minister Susi Pudjiastuti told the press in Jakarta, on Oct. 27.

The Filipino boats, which are FB Dave weighing 35 GT and 30-GT MV Boko-Boko, are suspected of fishing in the Indonesian Exclusive Economic Zone (ZEE) without having legal documents that only the Indonesian government could have issued, the minister said.

The boats were towed to the Tarakan naval base to carry out further legal process.

The 22-GT Malaysian boat was nabbed by the East Kalimantan water police.

The boat with two crew members was found fishing in Indonesian waters without having a sailing permit or a fishing permit from the Indonesian authorities.

Minister Susi Pudjiastuti hoped the boats could be destroyed by the authorities soon.

Earlier, on Oct. 6, the minister said she wished that the 16 ships including from Vietnam and the Philippines, caught fishing illegally in the country recently, could have been immediately sunk.

"Sinking such boats is allowed under the fisheries law," she said here on Tuesday.

Based on Article 69, Paragraph 4 of Law Number 45, 2009 regarding revision of Law Number 31 of 2004 on fisheries, the law states, "...investigators and/or fisheries supervisors could conduct special action in the form of burning and/or sinking the fishing boats carrying foreign flags, based on sufficient preliminary evidence."

She hoped that these ships could be sunk without having to wait for the courts ruling, as had happened before.

The minister disclosed that the district court in Sabang, Aceh, had rejected the pretrial suit filed by the owner of Silver Sea 2 Ship from Thailand.

"We must be grateful for this because (that means) rules were enforced according to the law," she said.

Several criminal charges would be pressed against the owner of Silver Sea 2, including taking fish outside the Indonesian territory without documents and conducting illegal trans-shipment.

The ship had also turned off its Vessel Monitoring System while sailing in the countrys waters, she said.

"Pretrial suits will not affect Indonesias spirit and we must continue to work hard to fight illegal fishing practices as a trans-national crime," she said.

The minister said the government has written to the Thai government, strongly deploring the alleged illegal fishing activity that Silver Sea 2 indulged in.

However, it was reported that the owner of the Thai-flagged fish cargo boat MV Silver Sea 2 had planned to take up the case in the International Court for seizing the boat "without a strong legal basis."

"We will file a lawsuit in the International Court to seek justice as our clients boat was seized without any strong evidence," Sofyan, the lawyer of MV Silver Sea 2s owner, stated on Oct. 23.

The Indonesian warship KRI Teuku Umar apprehended the boat and its crew 83 miles off Sumatra, on August 12, 2015, while the boat was on its way to Thailand, he said.

The 2,385 GT-boat was carrying 19 crew members and mixed fish weighing 1,930 tons.

The boat is now being detained at a naval base in Sabang, Weh Island, Aceh Darussalam Province.

The boat was in international waters when it was stopped, Sofyan said.

He refuted an accusation that the boat had been poaching in Indonesian waters, and said that it had never sailed into Indonesian waters.

"The travel recording shows that MV Silver Sea sailed from Thailand to Papua New Guinea through the south Philippines. From Papua New Guinea, it sailed to Thailand through the Indian Ocean," he explained.

It did not sail in Indonesian waters, so why had the fisheries ministry called the Indonesian Navy to seize MV Silver Sea 2, he asked.

In the meantime, the Peoples Coalition for Fishery Justice (Kiara) has urged the Joko Widodo (Jokowi) administration to prioritize enhancing the fishermens welfare, rather than focusing merely on the fight against illegal fishing activities.

"President Jokowi and the ministers in his Working Cabinet should not only focus on illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing activities," Secretary General of Kiara Abdul Halim said on Oct. 20.

The fight against illegal fishing is just a minor part of the governments responsibility to develop a prosperous coastal community.

According to him, the most important thing is to improve their welfare by providing facilities and basic needs of good quality that the community living in coastal areas should be able to afford. ***1***

(T.F001/A/KR-BSR/F001) 28-10-2015 13:09:28