Friday, December 5, 2014


     Jakarta, Dec 5, 2014 (Antara) - Several sections, including fishermen, legislators, and politicians have lauded President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo's directive to sink foreign vessels caught fishing illegally in Indonesian waters.
         "We support Minister Susi's measures to sink boats that poach in Indonesian waters. We once burned a boat that was found fishing illegally by using a trawl, but that destroyed coral reefs and killed small fish," Rustam, a fisherman in Bengkulu, Sumatra, said on Nov. 25, 2014.
        The idea of sinking illegal foreign fishing boats was first raised by Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Minister Susi Pudjiastuti. She later won the support of President Jokowi and several legislators.

        Illegal fishing costs Indonesia some Rp300 trillion ($24.7 billion) in a year, according to President Jokowi.
        "I said it yesterday: Stop arresting [poachers] already and sink 10 or 20 boats so that they'll think twice before doing it again," the President was quoted as saying by in November 2014.
        "But of course, we have to save their crews first," added Jokowi, who has laid out a vision for Indonesia to become a global maritime axis.
        Deputy Speaker Fadli Zon supported the government's stern policy to fight poaching.
        "The policy of sinking foreign illegal fishing boats must be in line with the existing laws. If they are found guilty of violating the Indonesian regulations, some actions must be taken, not just talks," Fadli Zon of the Great Indonesian Movement (Gerindra) Party, was quoted by Liputan6TV on Nov. 29, 2014.
        Another legislator, Hermano of the Justice Prosperous Party (PKS), appreciated the Indonesian Naval Chief of Staff, Admiral Marsetio, for showing readiness to stamp out poaching in Indonesian waters.
        "We hope the navy will not have to face any problem of fuel shortage as in the past while carrying out action against illegal foreign fishing," Hermano said in Banjarmasin, South Kalimantan Province, on Dec. 4, 2014.
         "There must not be anymore warships lying idle for want of fuel, which will open opportunity for foreign fishing vessels to freely steal our fish," Hermanto noted.
        He said so far the government seemed to have no power to deal with illegal fishing.
        "We know there had been illegal fishing and we know the losses had been huge, but we have done enough to cope with the problem," he remarked.
        Although many poachers have been caught, many others have escaped, he added.
         "As a result, illegal fishing remains rampant," he pointed out, while adding, "we hope that the navy will be more effective in dealing with illegal fishing as the fuel problem has been solved," he added.  The government has allocated funds for the purpose in the 2015 state budget, he stressed.
        Chairman of the Nahdlatul Ulama (NU), Said Aqil Siradj, also supported the move.
         "We, the members of the NU, support the policy to sink boats that poach (in Indonesian waters) and arrest their crew for trial in court," Siradj affirmed in Magelang, Central Java, on Dec 3, 2014.
        He emphasized that stringent action should be taken to protect the country's abundant natural resources.       
   "We hope the government is firm. Do not let our wealth be enjoyed by conglomerates, especially foreign conglomerates. We still have plenty of poor people in this country," he stated.
         Siradj said he respected Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Minister Susi Pudjiastuti for implementing such a firm policy.
         Every night, foreign poachers steal Indonesian fish, and in the morning, they leave for the open seas, he added.
        "Hopefully, the policy is really implemented as we have lost trillions or even hundreds of trillions of rupiah due to poaching by foreign fishing boats," he noted.
         The stern policy is expected to serve as a shock therapy for foreign poachers operating in Indonesian waters, according to him.
         "They have stolen fish from Indonesia and we have lost hundreds of trillions of rupiah," he stated.   
    Indonesian Military (TNI) Chief General Moeldoko recently said that the TNI has been looking for the best possible way to sink foreign vessels found fishing illegally in Indonesian waters.
         "Following Jokowi's instruction to sink foreign illegal fishing vessels, I have requested the Navy chief of staff to find the best possible way to carry out the president's order," Moeldoko stated.  
    Coordinating Minister for Political, Law and Security Affairs Tedjo Edhy Purdijatno told the press that the Indonesian authorities will sink three foreign-flagged illegal fishing vessels on  Saturday (Dec 7).
         "This is a tough move by the Indonesian government against illegal fishing activities in our territory," Tedjo stated after meeting with President Jokowi at the Presidential Palace.
         According to him, the authorities had earlier seized three ships allegedly fishing illegally in Indonesian waters. After thorough investigations, the authorities came to the conclusion that the crew of the three ships had indeed been illegally fishing and therefore will be held guilty of violating regulations in Indonesia.
        The three ships will be sunk in Anambas waters in Riau island area. "It will be burnt or blasted. The message here is that nobody can violate our regulation," noted Tedjo.
         Meanwhile, Hikmahanto Juwana, an international law expert, believes that the policy will not affect ties with neighboring countries.
         "There are five reasons why the boat sinking policy will not worsen international relations," Juwana, the dean of international law of the University of Indonesia (UI), stated in Depok, West Java, on Dec 5, 2014.
        Firstly, no country in the world allows its citizens to commit crimes in other countries. Foreign fishing boats that would be sunk are the ones without permit to catch fish in Indonesian waters. They commit crimes because they operate illegally in the Indonesian maritime territory.
        Secondly, the government will sink them in Indonesian territories of the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).
        Thirdly, the sanction is based on Indonesian Fishery Law 2009's Chapter 69, Article 4. Before 2009, any action to sink poaching boats could only be carried out based on the court's verdict.
        The fourth reason is that any country that lodges a protest, must first understand that poaching activities by foreign fishing boats have caused huge material losses to Indonesia.
        Allowing foreign boats to poach in Indonesian waters will lead to larger losses for the country.
        Lastly, the government will take care of the safety of crews, despite the decision to sink their boats. ***1***

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