Govt prepares massive illegal foreign boats sinking

As a way of strengthening its campaign to deter illegal fishing in Indonesian vast waters, the Government announced that this month on its Independence Day it is to sink up to 71 impounded foreign boats.

Indonesian authorities claim that fishing without permission in its territory costs the economy billions of dollars annually.

Official statistics revealed that since 2014 a total of 176 boats from a number of countries, including China, Thailand, Vietnam, the Philippines and Malaysia captured fishing illegally have been sunk -- after the crews were removed.

Fisheries Minister Susi Pudjiastuti explained that apart from fishing without legal documents, the vessels that were caught were found to have used prohibited fishing equipment.

"Customs and excise officers seized several pieces of evidence, such as 57 tons of fertilizer for fish bombing. The National Police also seized 2 tons [of fertilizer] in the Pangkajene Islands [Pangkep] and 1 ton on an uninhabited island around the islands," she stated.

The Minister added that the National Police and the National Counterterrorism Agency (BNPT) were investigating further to determine whether the fishermen had intended to use the bombs for fishing activities or use them for terrorism-related purposes.

Despite the government's efforts to ban fish bombs, the use of them has continued in domestic waters. the Minister said officials would continue to spread awareness, especially among fishermen in fishing zones, on the need to stop destructive fishing activities.

The Minister clarified the boats to be sunk -- many of which were captured off Indonesia's Natuna Islands in the southern reaches of the South China Sea -- will be scuttled and not blown up.

The plan comes at a time of high maritime tensions between Beijing and Jakarta after repeated clashes in waters around Indonesian islands in the disputed South China Sea.

Source: Fish Info & Services