The Jakarta Post
The Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Ministry announced on Monday the establishment of a task force that will deal with the fight against illegal, unregulated and unreported (IUU) fishing.
The 12-member team consists of figures from the Presidential Working Unit for the Supervision and Management of Development ( UKP4 ), the Financial Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre (PPATK), the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK), the National Police, the Transportation Ministry, the Customs Department and Bank Indonesia.
Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Minister Susi Pudjiastuti appointed Mas Achmad Santosa, UKP4 deputy for law enforcement, to chair the task force alongside former PPATK chief Yunus Hussein and the Ministry's inspector general, Andha Fauzi Miraza.
The task force, which reports directly to Susi, would be in charge of improving the licensing system, verifying ex-foreign fishing vessels and overseeing the six-month fishing license moratorium.
Additionally, the task force would also have the authority to make recommendations to be followed up by the legal
institutions, as well as measure the impact of licensing fraud on the economy.
Achmad said he was up to the task of supporting the ministry, because the position allowed him to support government policy, ensure the country's sovereignty and protect the marine ecosystem.
Achmad said the task force would be employed even if the moratorium expired in April 2015.
'There is no indication that we'll work until the moratorium ends,' he said on Monday, adding that improving the licensing system required a longer period than the license ban itself.
According to a statement from the task force, the Ministry is able to renew the team's work contract if they are still needed in the effort to combat illegal fishing.
Meanwhile, Minister Susi on Monday also announced that her office had seized 22 Chinese fishing vessels in the Arafuru Sea in the southern waters of East Papua, on Sunday.
According to Susi, the ministry has managed to capture the double-flagged ships using the International Maritime Organization's (IMO) standard automatic identification system.
'[On Sunday] I received information that we captured 22 Chinese vessels measuring over 300 gross tons (GT) at 3 p.m. local time,' she told reporters on Monday.
Susi said she had made a formal appeal to Foreign Minister Retno LP Marsudi about the Chinese vessels that had practiced illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing.
'We hope we can follow up on the issue,' she said, adding that the foreign ministry would pass it on to the Chinese Embassy in Indonesia. 'We are taking the persuasive route,' she added.
The businesswoman-turned-minister said she had not decided on a plan of action for the captured ships. She said that her people were considering sinking the ships if President Joko 'Jokowi' Widodo gave them the green light.
However, she also considered the alternative of confiscating the evidence so that local fishermen could benefit from them.
Previously, the Navy had sunk three foreign vessels on Friday in the waters near Matak Island in Anambas Regency in Riau. The ministry also planned to sink five fishing ships from Thailand on Nov. 14 to coincide with 'Archipelago Day'.
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