The Jakarta Post
The Indonesian Navy has seized an internationally sought fishing boat in the Strait of Malacca.
The crew of the Andrey Dolgov attempted to escape while trying to fish in the area in April last year. While trying to make it out of Indonesian waters, Navy drones and surveillance aircraft had encircled the boat.
Navy personnel then boarded the boat. The crew gave up and surrendered to the Navy.
"The boathouse crew insisted that they were not fishing illegally since their engine and other fishing equipment were broken,” Andrea Aditya Salim, a member of a special unit tasked with capturing the boat, said as quoted by kompas.com on Thursday.
The crew consisted of 30 people, including 20 Indonesians, eight Russians and two Australians.
Upon their investigation, officers found 600 fishing nets spanning around 30 kilometers, which is prohibited according to the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR).
The capture has ended the Navy’s three-week operation, in cooperation with Interpol and the coalition of African countries, Fish-I Africa.
The boat had previously been seized in Mozambique and China but was able to overcome the legal battle.
The boat, which is also known as “Ayda” and “Sea Breeze 1”, is a part of a criminal organization that seeks to operate in countries with loopholes in their maritime laws, coupled with corrupt law enforcers.
The CCAMLR had blacklisted the boat in 2016 while Interpol also included it on its list of illegal fishing cases.
For over 10 years, the boat’s crew members have allegedly reaped around Rp 702 million ($US50 million) through illegal fishing.
Apart from illegal fishing, there have also been accusations of money laundering and forced labor.
Under the President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo administration, Indonesia has captured and sunk numerous illegal boats in its waters, including a recent case that saw five Vietnamese fishing boats sailing in Batam. (mai)