The Jakarta Post
The National Police said investigators would halt their investigation into a defamation report filed by the owner of Chinese fishing vessel MV Hai Fa against Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Minister Susi Pudjiastuti.
National Police detective chief Comr. Gen. Budi Waseso said the report lacked a legal basis.
'The defamation article [of the Criminal Code] can only be used against an individual and not a company or a ship. This just makes it difficult for our investigators,' he told reporters at National Police headquarters in South Jakarta.
Earlier this month, the company operating the MV Hai Fa filed a police report against Susi for defamation.
The company's legal representative, Made Rahman, said Susi's statement, in which she said that the ship was operating illegally, had been damaging to the company.
In March, the Ambon District Court slapped the operator of the 4,306 gross ton MV Hai Fa with a fine of Rp 200 million (US$15,444) after the fishing vessel was convicted of illegally netting hundreds of tons of fish in Ambon waters.
The ship was reportedly the largest foreign vessel ever caught by the government.
Susi had said her ministry was preparing to file an appeal on the ruling at the Supreme Court, claiming 'we can't allow this kind of verdict to be handed down to perpetrators of illegal fishing'.
The MV Hai Fa flew the Panamian flag, though most of its crew were Chinese nationals.
Separately, Made insisted Susi had misrepresented the ship's activities.
'The MV Hai Fa was used not to fish but to transport fish caught by another vessel,' he said, acknowledging that the ship was guilty of transporting several species of fish that had been banned for fishing.
'However, we have already paid the fines. The minister should not have filed an appeal,' he said.
Meanwhile, the Indonesian Navy is planning to sink four foreign ships from the Philippines that were caught carrying out illegal fishing activities in February.
Navy Chief of Staff Admiral Ade Supandi confirmed that a district court in Tarakan, North Kalimantan, had ordered their sinking.
'We will sink the four ships in May,' Ade told The Jakarta Post in Jakarta on Thursday.
The four ships were caught by warship KRI Slamet Riyadi 293 miles off East Tarakan in February. The four boats were: Van Boat (VB) Vien 09, VB Saint Thomas, VB Saint Jose and VB Santa Cruz. They were taken to Tarakan Naval Base while their owners underwent questioning
Ade said that currently, several foreign ships were awaiting court rulings on charges of illegal fishing in Indonesia waters.
The ships included two Thai boats caught in Natuna waters in April.
The boats were caught by Navy corvette KRI Pattimura during its patrol and are now being held at a port in Tarempa, Anambas Islands regency.
Meanwhile, on Thursday the Navy arrested a Vietnamese vessel also in Natuna waters close to the border between Indonesia and Malaysia.
The ship was caught by the KRI Pattimura after the crew was unable to present their permit. Currently, the ship and its crew are being held at the Pontianak Naval Base for further investigation.
Article 69 of Law No. 45/2009 on fisheries stipulates that vessels found guilty of illegal fishing activities would be sunk by maritime authorities.
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