The Jakarta Post
Despite complaints from neighboring countries, Indonesia is set to continue sinking foreign ships caught fishing illegally in its territorial waters.
The Indonesian Navy was scheduled to sink two more ships on Sunday at Laha, Teluk Ambon, Maluku, Navy spokesman Commodore Manahan Simorangkir said.
'The ships have gone through legal procedures at the court in Ambon and their owners were found guilty of stealing fish from Indonesian waters. We must sink these ships so that other foreign ships will think twice before fishing illegally in our territory,' Manahan told The Jakarta Post on Saturday.
The ships, the Century IV and Century VII, were caught on Dec. 7 near the sea border of Indonesia and Papua New Guinea, south of Merauke.
'The ships were flying the Papua New Guinean flag but the crew were all Thai,' Navy Maj. Eko Budimansyah, spokesman for Lantamal IX Naval Base in Ambon, told the Post, adding that the vessels carried 63 tons of fish and shrimp.
The Navy arrested 62 crewmen, several of who were turned over to immigration, in the raids.
The vessels will be the fourth and fifth ships sunk by Indonesia in the three months since President Joko 'Jokowi' Widodo took office.
Six more foreign ships are currently facing destruction, pending decisions from the court in Ambon.
Manahan said the sinkings were deterring illegal fishing. 'Since Indonesia has sunk three illegal fishing boats from Vietnam on Dec. 5, the number of cases of illegal fishing in our territory has declined.'
He said that 22 illegal fishing boats detected by an satellite automatic-identification system (AIS) photo several weeks ago by the Navy had now disappeared.
On Dec. 5, the Navy destroyed three Vietnamese boats caught fishing illegally near Siantan island, Anambas Island regency, Riau Islands.
While the number of illegal fishing boats operating in the country's waters has declined, some illegal ships cannot be detected by the AIS.
Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Minister Susi Pudjiastuti advised Jokowi to instruct the Navy to seize 13 illegal fishing vessels from China and Taiwan detected in Indonesian waters on Thursday, Tempo reported.
Susi said the vessels weighed around 300 gross tons (GT), while the AIS satellite could not detect vessels under 300 GT.
The Navy, however, said it had not received information on the boats nor any instruction to seize the vessels.
The country loses about Rp 300 trillion (US$24.3 billion) annually from illegal fishing and there are currently an estimated 5,400 illegal ships operating in Indonesian waters.
Indonesia sank 33 of 38 foreign vessels illegally fishing in its territorial waters between 2007 and 2012.
Thirty-two of the ships came from Vietnam and all were caught off Natuna Island.
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