Another Singaporean boat captain accused of trespassing in Indonesian waters

11 illegal fishing boats being sunk in the Natuna sea off the coast of Indonesia on Aug 17, 2016.
11 illegal fishing boats being sunk in the Natuna sea off the coast of Indonesia on Aug 17, 2016.PHOTO: AFP/MARINE AFFAIRS AND FISHERIES MINISTRY

JAKARTA - Another Singaporean boat captain, along with his crew and nine passengers, has been arrested allegedly for trespassing in Indonesia's waters.

Captain Ricky Tan Poh Hui was piloting the Malaysia-flagged Seven Seas Conqueress in waters off Bintan island when he was stopped by the Indonesian navy on Sunday (Aug 21).

According to the navy, the Seven Seas Conqueress, was intercepted about 7.5 nautical miles from the coast of Tanjung Berakit, in Riau Islands. Local authorities said the boat, owned by Singapore-based Odyssey Marine, did not have permission to enter the waters.

Mr Tan, his crew of three and the nine passengers, mainly recreational anglers from Singapore, are being held by local authorities for investigations in a naval base in Tanjung Pinang.

Base commander First Admiral S. Irawan told The Straits Times on Monday (Aug 22), that a navy vessel had spotted the Seven Seas Conqueress while on patrol for poachers. "There was evidence (of illegal fishing), such as fishing-rods and fresh fish," he said. "That shows they were fishing illegally in Indonesian waters."

He added that the case will be handed over to the immigration office for legal proceedings under Indonesia's Immigration laws as well because it was "very clear" the boat was fishing in Indonesian waters without permission.

Singapore's Ministry of Foreign Affairs said on Monday it has contacted most of the next-of-kin of the detained Singaporeans, and it will continue to reach out to the others. The Republic's consulate in Batam is also in touch with the Indonesian authorities to provide assistance to the Singaporeans.

The latest arrests comes after the acquittal of Singaporean boat captain Shoo Chiau Huat for a similar offence in July.

Mr Shoo, however, remains in the custody of Indonesian immigration authorities after he was slapped with immigration offences following his acquittal.

His lawyer Herman Black told The Straits Times on Monday that a pre-trial motion has been filed and the case will be heard next week on Aug 29.

tkchan@sph.com.sg