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Jakarta Post

Navy captures foreign vessels in Malacca Strait, alleges illegal fishing

  • Apriadi Gunawan

    The Jakarta Post

Belawan   /   Tue, November 10, 2020   /   01:44 pm
Navy captures foreign vessels in Malacca Strait, alleges illegal fishing Indonesian Navy personnel stand guard after intercepting a Vietnamese-flagged fishing boat in Natuna waters off the Riau Islands. (Courtesy of Tarempa Naval Base/File)

The Indonesian Navy (TNI AL) has captured three Malaysian-flagged vessels with foreign fishermen on board for allegedly fishing within Indonesia’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ) in the Malacca Strait.

The Navy detained 11 Myanmar and six Thai nationals aboard the three fishing vessels.

The KRI Kerambit-627, an Indonesian warship, captured the vessels and their crews and brought them to Belawan Naval Base I (Lantamal I) on Sunday, the base’s spokesman Maj. Edi Harahap said.

Rear Adm. Abdul Rasyid Kacong, the commander of Naval Fleet I in Belawan, said the KRI Kerambit-627 detected the foreign vessels while on patrol in Indonesia’s EEZ on Sunday. The warship’s crew had received information that there might be several foreign vessels fishing in Indonesian waters.

The warship then intercepted the three fishing vessels, codenamed PKFB 1223, PKFB 1928 and PKFB 1791.

Abdul said the crew of the KRI Kerambit-627 found more than five tons of fish aboard PKFB 1223, and apprehended its captain, identified as S, along with five Burmese crew members.

Aboard PKFB 1928, Navy personnel found the ship’s captain, identified as Z, 4 Burmese crew members and more than five tons of fish.

The Navy also found more than six tons of fish aboard PKFB 1791, which was captained by a person identified as PK and had five Thai crew members.

“We will continue investigating this case according to the prevailing laws,” Abdul Rasyid said on Monday, adding that the investigation would continue at Belawan Naval Base I.

Read also: Watchdog urges authorities to intensify patrols in Natuna amid rampant illegal fishing

He said the three foreign vessels and their crew members had been caught fishing in Indonesian waters without legal documentation.

The crew members may be charged under Article 92 of Law No. 45/2009 on fishing, which carries a maximum sentence of 8 years in prison and a Rp 20 million (US$ 1.41 million) fine.

Illegal fishing has been common along Indonesia’s maritime borders in the Straits of Malacca and the Natuna Sea.

According to fisheries watchdog Destructive Fishing Watch, authorities seized at least 31 foreign fishing vessels within Indonesia’s EEZ in the Natuna waters from June to October of this year.

The group demanded that the government intensify the crackdown on illegal fishing by foreign vessels, citing concerns about the overexploitation of fish stocks and of territorial sovereignty.

Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Minister Edhy Prabowo detained 71 foreign fishing vessels from the start of his tenure in October 2019 to August of this year.

Former minister Susi Pudjiastuti sunk or seized more than 500 foreign vessels for operating illegally in Indonesian waters during her tenure. (ami)