The Jakarta Post
Maritime and Fisheries Affairs Minister Edhy Prabowo seems to have decided not to continue former minister Susi Pudjiastuti’s tough stance against illegal fishing, as he said he will no longer continue his predecessor’s signature ship-sinking policy.
Instead, Edhy said he would hand over foreign-flagged ships that have been found guilty of operating illegally in Indonesian waters to local fishermen.
"The ship-sinking policy is [Susi’s] breakthrough, which I think is good. However, we cannot stop there. In managing the sea, I think ‘what’s next?’” he said at Maritime and Fisheries Monitoring Task Force (PSDKP) headquarters in Batam on Wednesday.
The minister said he was still reviewing the procedures to find ways for the seized ships to be handed over to fishermen, particularly those who deserved them. “[Government] information says the ships are of good quality,” Edhy said.
He said the only foreign vessels that should be sunk were those that tried to escape when they were caught fishing illegally in Indonesia’s waters.
From 2016 to this year, 20 vessels have been intercepted while operating illegally within the country’s maritime territory.
Of the 20, 13 were Vietnamese-flagged vessels, five were Malaysian-flagged vessels and one was a Panamanian-flagged vessel. One was an Indonesian-flagged vessel.
Sinking illegal fishing vessels was a cornerstone of Susi’s maritime affairs policy, which earned her a reputation of being a no-nonsense minister when it came to fighting illegal fishing during Jokowi’s first-term administration.
Indonesia has sunk more than 500 illegal fishing vessels since Susi took office.
Musa Muhammad, the head of Business Cooperatives Forum Mina Batam Madani, said that the former minister’s tough measures had significantly reduced the rate of illegal fishing in the country.
"The ship-sinking policy is good because it gives a deterrent effect to those operating illegal fishing vessels," Musa said, adding that it would be better for the government to continue the policy. (gis)