The Jakarta Post
The Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Ministry may sink up to 57 fishing boats if they are found guilty of operating illegally in Indonesian waters. Twelve of the arrested boats are confirmed to be destroyed while 45 others are undergoing legal proceedings.
Maritime and Fisheries Monitoring Task Force ( PSDKP ) ship operations director Goenaryo assured that the decision to sink the boats as not made lightly.
"We have criteria that must be met before we can sink ships. First, it must be proven that the ship harms the ecosystem with tools that can be categorized as 'destructive fishing.' Second, they trespass our territory; and third, they carry dangerous media," he said on Wednesday in Jakarta.
Nineteen of the 57 arrested boats were flying Vietnamese flags, while 18 Indonesian-flagged ships were arrested on allegations of destructive fishing. Malaysia has 12 ships facing destruction, while the Philippines five and Thailand three.
The ministry sunk 121 ships last year, 107 of which were destroyed in the first half of the year. Thirty-nine of them were Vietnamese ships, 36 Philippine ships, 21 Thai and 12 Malaysian.
Responding to criticism over its ship-sinking policy, Goenaryo said that a previous measure in which arrested ships were handed over to nearby communities until legal proceeding were completed was not effective as the boats sat idle at ports.
The government, he continued, planned to toughen its sanctions by sinking boats on the spot.
"With the 2009 Fisheries Law, we have a legal basis to sink boats. But on account of the rising number of illegal fishing boats, we are revising the law in a way that would allow us to sink boats right when they are caught," Goenaryo said. ( ags )( + )