Archipelago

Patrol ships stop operations
due to soaring fuel prices

Indonesia’s inability to curb to illegal fishing should come as no surprise, with water patrol units finding it increasingly difficult to operate due to skyrocketing fuel costs.

With continuous increases in gas prices, two patrol vessels that belong to the Yogyakarta Water Police Security Agency (Polair) currently find themselves stationery at Sadeng Port, Gunung Kidul, Yogyakarta.

Most patrol ships in Indonesia - including those in Yogyakarta - have stopped operating as Polair offices across the country are no longer able to bear fuel costs for their patrol operations.

“For an eight hour patrol operation from Sadeng in Gunung Kidul to Congot in Kulonprogo, each patrol unit needs around 600 liters of fuel,” said Comr.Sugiarta of Yogyakarta Polair. The office, however, received only 1,400 liters of fuel per month to operate not only the patrol vessels, but also for several motorcycles, cars and trucks, as well as for conducting land operations.

“To protect the patrol vessels’ machinery from any damage, we must regularly heat it. We need around 60 liters of fuel for each heating,” said Sugiarta.

Since being handed over from the government in November 2012, the 12 meter-long, 2.5 meter-wide patrol vessels have engaged in patrol activities just once due to the costs involved.

As a result, maritime security activities conducted by the Yogyakarta Polair have been reduced.

Due to the fuel shortage, for example, the office could not carry out security checks when a vessel violated a water zone and hit a fishing net assembled by local fishermen.

Mugari, a fisherman from Samas beach in Srigading, Sanden, Bantul, said that with reduced maritime patrols, the system of water zones in the area could not be effectively implemented.

“Big fishing vessels have often entered coastal waters, affecting traditional fishermen,” said Mugari, adding that with such minimal sea patrols, illegal fishing continued to soar.

Suwarman, the head of fisheries unit at the Yogyakarta Fisheries Agency, said that illegal fishing in waters to the south of the province had flared up due to the absence of the patrol vessels. As a result, foreign fishing vessels could reach as far as 60-80 miles to sea, while traditional fishing boats were only able to reach up to 20 miles.

“We have operated patrol vessels to the south of the province only since the middle of 2012,” said Suwarman. (ebf)

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