Indonesia seizes two Vietnamese fishing boats in crackdown

JAKARTA (AFP) - Indonesia seized two illegal Vietnamese fishing boats and their crew on Wednesday (April 25), an official said, marking Jakarta's latest bid to boot foreign vessels from its waters.

The boats were spotted sailing side-by-side near Indonesia's Natuna islands, on the fringes of the South China Sea, when an Indonesian patrol boat ordered them to slow down, officials said.

The vessels instead sped up so Indonesia's maritime security agency gave chase and apprehended the vessels, it said.

"They were just starting and had some fish with them - about 300 kilogrammes," said agency spokesman Mardiono, who like many Indonesians goes by one name.

The combined 21 crew were taken into custody, the agency said.

Indonesia, the world's biggest archipelago nation, has been trying to stop foreign vessels fishing without permission in its territory, with President Joko Widodo claiming it costs the economy billions of dollars annually.

It has turned to a campaign of blowing up captured foreign boats as a deterrent.


About 200 foreign vessels captured fishing illegally have been sunk - after the crews were removed - since Widodo took power in 2014, with some exploded in spectacular public displays.

Last year, Indonesia detained 11 Vietnamese sailors following a confrontation around Indonesia's Natuna Islands, while one member of its own coastguard was being held in Vietnam.

Also in 2017, four Vietnamese fishermen were shot and wounded by the Indonesian navy over fishing in Natuna.