The Jakarta Post
The Indonesian Maritime Security Agency (Bakamla) has detained the crew of a Vietnamese fishing boat suspected of illegal fishing in the North Natuna Sea off Natuna Regency, Riau Islands, after the sailors reportedly tried hard to avoid arrest.
Bakamla public relations and protocol head Col. Wisnu Pramandita said the foreign vessel had been detected on Sunday by Indonesian patrol boat KN Pulau Dana-323, which had been keeping guard in the waters.
Wisnu said patrol officers tried to communicate with the foreign crew through VHF radio but received no response, before they maneuvered to approach them and warned them via semaphore signals.
“Knowing they would be questioned, the Vietnamese crewmen sped away from the KN Pulau Dana-323. Not only that, they also discarded a black fishing net to eliminate evidence,” Wisnu said in a statement on Sunday.
He said the foreign crew allegedly burned tires at the stern to escape vision. The crew increased their speed and did zig-zag maneuvers, endangering foreign commercial vessels that crossed the archipelagic sea lane, he added.
Wisnu claimed that the fishing boat tried to crash into the MV AKIJ OCEAN vessel that passed nearby, but patrol officers immediately warned the vessel crew to avoid the attempt.
KN Pulau Dana-323 commander Lt. Col. Hananto Widhi then ordered a visit, board, search and seizure (VBSS) team to intercept the vessel and later instructed the crew to turn off the engine.
“The foreign fishing boat was not cooperative and continued to carry out dangerous maneuvers, until it tried to crash into the KN Pulau Dana-323,” Wisnu said.
A warning shot was released into the air, but the fishing boat tried to escape the VBSS team, Wisnu added. The VBSS team eventually opened fire on the fishing boat platform, before the boat reduced its speed.
The fishing crew members have been arrested and taken to the Lampa Strait in Natuna for questioning, Wisnu said. An initial inspection showed the foreign boat had loaded two tons of fish. (syk)