Natuna waters threatened
by overfishing

JAKARTA: Overfishing remains the biggest threat to the ocean environment in the Natuna Islands, a scientist says.

The head of the Oceanographic Research Center at the Indonesian Institute of Sciences (LIPI), Suharsono, said Tuesday that fish and other marine species in Natuna faced serious threats from foreign fishing trawlers.

“Local fishermen in Natuna say unauthorized fishing by foreign trawlers have significantly depleted their stocks,” he said at a press conference on the sidelines of a two-day workshop titled “Natuna Sea and South Kalimantan Waters Expedition”.

He said well-equipped foreign trawlers, including from China, Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam, took advantage of poor maritime surveillance in the area, illegally catching major commercially valuable fish there.

The Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Ministry said 40 foreign trawlers and 157 fishermen from Vietnam were arrested in 2010 for illegally fishing in Natuna.

Suharsono said authorities should take more steps to prevent foreign trawlers from entering the areas.

“Overfishing not only negatively affects the ecosystem in Natuna due to the highly non-selective fishing methods used, but also creates huge financial losses for local fishermen,” he said.

The ministry said overfishing in Natuna caused losses the state of Rp 30 trillion (US$3.33 billion) each year. — JP

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