Illegal fishing: Indonesia to sink 19 more ships

JAKARTA - The Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Ministry says it will sink 19 more foreign vessels that fished illegally in Indonesian waters.

It has also frozen the operations of six large fishing companies for various illegal practices, including giving false reports on their catches to the government.

The director-general of maritime resource and fishery supervision at the ministry, Mr Asep Burhanuddin, said the 19 ships were among a total of 73 foreign vessels that have been processed in accordance with Indonesian law.

"Of the 19 ships that will be sunk, 13 are in Pontianak, West Kalimantan; five in Merauke, Papua; and one in Belawan, North Sumatra," he said, as quoted by kompas.com.

Mr Asep said his division was waiting for the green light from the maritime affairs and fisheries minister for the sinking.

Since January, the ministry has investigated more than 2,000 local and foreign ships in Indonesian waters and 73 were found to have allegedly fished illegally.

As for the six fishing companies that engaged in illegal practices, the ministry has revoked their commercial business licences, banning them from carrying out any fishery activities.

The actions were reported to President Joko Widodo on Monday.

"The President is also concerned to see how we are rich (in maritime resources), but our fishermen cannot benefit from this. It is foreigners who always benefit," Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Minister Susi Pudjiastuti told reporters after meeting Mr Joko at the Presidential Palace in Jakarta.

According to Mr Mas Achmad Santosa, head of the task force for the prevention and eradication of illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing, the six companies have large fleets and have committed serious violations.

"For example, Pusaka Benjina Group is facing legal action for its (alleged role) in human trafficking," he said.

Other illegal practices committed by the companies include slavery, poaching and tax evasion.

JAKARTA POST/ASIA NEWS NETWORK

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 24, 2015, with the headline 'Illegal fishing: Indonesia to sink 19 more ships'. Print Edition | Subscribe