Wednesday, December 17, 2014


   Jakarta, Dec 17, 2014  (Antara) -- President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo, who vowed to revive the past maritime glory of Indonesia during his tenure as the head of state, is determined to eliminate illegal foreign fishing boats from Indonesian waters.            
   According to data, Indonesia suffered annual losses of some Rp300 trillion (US$24.27 billion) due to illegal fishing activities. Some 5.4 thousand fishing vessels reportedly operate illegally in Indonesian waters because the government did not take firm action against them.
         "We must stop them. We must chase them out as soon as they enter Indonesian waters. Sink them," Jokowi ordered recently.

          The president, however, emphasized that the boat sinking policy must be implemented in accordance with legal procedures.
         The head of state noted that the government is committed to protecting its sea territory and that the maritime culture of Indonesia must be built and maintained.
        Furthermore, President Jokowi has instructed the finance minister to allocate sufficient budget for the procurement of several patrol boats needed to combat illegal fishing in Indonesian waters.
        Security personnel must be well-equipped to ward off every foreign fishing boat found stealing fish in Indonesian waters, he added.
        Indonesia is one of the world's largest maritime countries with some 5.8 million square kilometers of marine territory. Beaches and coastal areas in the state are some 92,000 kilometers long, second after Canada.
         It is the biggest archipelagic country in the world, with 17,480 islands and around 70 percent of its territory as water.
        To better integrate maritime security affairs, the government established the Maritime Security Agency (Bakamla), which was inaugurated by the president during the commemoration of Nusantara (archipelago) Day in Kotabaru, South Kalimantan province, on December 15.
         "Bakamla is expected to ease the bureaucratic network and coordination among maritime law enforcers," Coordinating Minister for Political, Legal and Security Affairs Tedjo Edhy Purdijatno emphasized during a seminar on maritime issues in Jakarta on December 16.
        The establishment of the Bakamla is a mandate of Law Number 32/2014 on maritime affairs to integrate the implementation of security by involving military and civilian institutions such as the navy, the national police, the Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Ministry, and the immigration and excise office. 
   The Indonesian Navy, the national police, and the Transportation Ministry are ready to provide some of their boats to the agency for patrolling the nation's waters.
        In addition, the fuel shortage problem has been resolved as the Transportation Ministry has pledged to share its surplus fuel stock, he noted.
        The harsh measure adopted by the government to sink foreign boats found poaching in Indonesian waters will be intensified, though in accordance with legal processes, according to the minister.
          "It will have a deterrent effect on those who steal fish from our waters," he affirmed.
         To intensify the fight against poaching in its waters, the Indonesian government will increase the number and types of patrol boats, ships, and aircraft.
        "Maritime security has, so far, relied on Sukhoi aircraft only," Cabinet Secretary Andi Widjajanto stated while accompanying Jokowi during a visit to a fishermen's village in Tarakan, North Kalimantan, on December 16.
        The government intends to procure amphibious aircraft to strengthen its fleet patrolling Indonesian waters, he remarked. 
  He further noted that the president was optimistic regarding the domestic aerospace company's capability of manufacturing amphibious aircraft.
        The newly-established Bakamla will decide on the number of amphibious aircraft needed to carry out water patrols, he stated.
         "The Bakamla was established recently. We will wait for the agency to coordinate and synergize with seven other related institutions," he observed.
        The government also plans to buy 147 boats to strengthen its maritime patrol fleet.
        Admiral Marsetio, the Indonesian naval chief of staff, recently said in Bitung, North Sulawesi, that the navy enforced law at sea indiscriminately.
        "Anyone violating maritime laws will be sanctioned," Marsetio stressed during the occasion where a warship was named after John Lie.
         Last week, the navy sank three Vietnamese boats, he stated.  "We hope this move acts as a deterrent. If they don't listen, we will sink their boats," he pointed out.
         "We recently detained six boats owned by a Dutch company. We towed them to Ambon, where they are now being handled by authorities. If they cannot show necessary documents, we will sanction them or sink the boats," he added.
         According to the admiral, 12 institutions are involved in the operation to secure Indonesian seas.
        "The navy cannot mobilize all of its forces alone. We need to work in sync with other stakeholders," he explained.
        After a memorandum of understanding (MoU) was signed between the Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Ministry (KKP) and the navy, the government expressed its commitment to meet the operational requirements of warships to curb illegal fishing.
        Earlier, the operational budget could only cater to 27 percent of the fuel requirements of warships.
        With the government's support, Marsetio declared that all Indonesian Navy warships (KRIs) were ready to adopt stringent measures to stamp out illegal fishing activities.
        The navy commander explained that as many as 147 ships were ready to be operated and that the government would cater to all the fuel and vessel operational needs. He added that the requirement was included in the 2015 budget. 
   Besides the Bakamla, the Indonesian government also set up a fish theft eradication task force to investigate violators of fishing rules, according to Minister of Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Susi Pudjiastuti.
         "The task force was established in accordance with a decision made by the Ministry of Maritime Affairs and Fisheries," she stated recently.
        The force will be in charge of improving licensing procedures and following a moratorium on the issuance of permits to large fishing ships, among others, she said.
        Pudjiastuti added that the task force will also verify data on the number fishing vessels and calculate losses inflicted to the state by fish theft.
         The squad will be led by the Deputy of the Presidential Working Unit for the Supervision and Management of Development (UKP4), Mas Achmad Santosa, she pointed out.
          The minister further noted that in performing his duties, the chief will be assisted by Inspector General of the Ministry of Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Andha Fauzi Miraza and former chief of the Financial Transaction Reports and Analysis Center (PPATK), Yunus Hussein.
          The team will include members from the ministry, as well as the finance and transportation ministries, the National Police Criminal Investigation Directorate (Bareskrim), UKP4, and PPATK.
         Moreover, former maritime affairs and fisheries minister Sharif Cicip Sutardjo once mentioned that Indonesia's maritime economic potential was Rp3,000 trillion (US$257 billion) per year.
        Despite the huge marine potential, Indonesia utilizes only 8 percent of it, necessitating strong efforts to optimize this sector, the then maritime affairs and fisheries minister Fadel Muhammad had said while commemorating the World Ocean Day in 2011.
        The country's marine and fisheries resources are still wide open for development through aquaculture, marine tourism, mining, maritime transportation, and development of marine services.

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