At least three Malaysia boats detained by Indonesia in latest fishing dispute

Police on a boat in the foreground, with remnants of illegal fishing boats blown up with explosives by Indonesian authorities in Kuala Langsa, Aceh, on April 5, 2016.
Police on a boat in the foreground, with remnants of illegal fishing boats blown up with explosives by Indonesian authorities in Kuala Langsa, Aceh, on April 5, 2016. PHOTO: AFP

KUALA LUMPUR - At least three Malaysian fishing boats have been detained by Indonesian authorities, drawing protest from Kuala Lumpur over an alleged breach of understanding between the two nations.

It is the latest in a growing dispute over dwindling fish stocks in the region.

Malaysia's foreign ministry said in a statement on Tuesday (April 19) that the "arrest may have happened in Malaysian waters".

"The arrest is not consistent with understanding reached between Malaysia and the Republic of Indonesia in handling fisheries-related incidents," it said.

It added that Foreign Minister Anifah Aman has raised the matter with his Indonesian counterpart Retno Marsudi.

The Malaysian envoy in Pekanbaru has travelled to Batam to ensure the well-being of the captains of the fishing boats, the statement said.

On Sunday, Malaysia had also detained two Indonesian fishing boats, alleging that 550 kg of fish were found on board.

 

On the same evening, the Indonesian navy also held a boat captained by a Singaporean for allegedly fishing in Indonesian waters without permission.

Since 2014, Indonesia has sunk some 170 vessels caught poaching in Indonesian waters and impounded 700 others.

Most of the sunk ships were from Vietnam and the Philippines. Last year, two Singapore-registered ships were detained when they entered Indonesian waters in the Strait of Malacca and near Batam.

Malaysia and Indonesia have also been embroiled in disputes with China over hundreds of Chinese boats alleged to be fishing in South-east Asian territory. But China has insisted these vessels were in traditional Chinese fishing waters.

shannont@sph.com.sg