A 19-year-old fisherman, La Bila, was reportedly killed on a fishing boat after being shot by local sea patrol officers on Friday in Raja Ampat waters in Sorong, West Papua, at around 3 p.m. local time.
The incident began when La Bila and seven other fishermen were taking their motor boat from Batanta Island to the Kafiau Strait at around 2 p.m.
Local sea patrol officers spotted the fishermen and approached them as they were suspicious that the men partaking were illegally fishing.
Both parties then became embroiled in an argument before the fishermen reportedly tried to flee for fear of being caught.
The officers gave chase and fired warning shots to deter the fishermen from escaping.
The fishermen, however, did not stop their boat, which caused the officers to fire at the vessel, with one of the bullets apparently killing La Bila.
Enraged by the incident, residents staged a protest at Sorong Police station and the Raja Ampat Representative Office in Sorong city. They urged the police to thoroughly investigate the shooting.
Papua Police spokesman Sr. Comr. I Gede Sumerta Jaya said the case was still under investigation.
This is not the first such shooting involving fishermen and sea patrol officers in Raja Ampat. Previously on Dec. 20, 2012, four fishermen were reportedly killed, while three others were injured, when a local sea patrol shot at them.
As of today, the state of the investigation into that case remain unknown.
Raja Ampat regency is a favorite diving spot in the country.
It is home to diverse and unique marine life, with more than 1,300 species of fish, including sharks and manta rays; 699 mollusk species and 537 coral organisms.
Situated in the Coral Reef Triangle Zone, Raja Ampat is also rich in a wide variety of coral reefs – it is home to 75 percent of the world’s coral reef, vast expanses of sea grass, mangrove forests and attractive rocky coastal banks.
The area, however, is facing an illegal fishing threat due to its huge potential.
The Raja Ampat administration issued Regional Regulation (Perda) No. 9/2012 to ban shark and manta ray hunting in an attempt to protect its biodiversity.