JAKARTA • An Indonesian minister has said Jakarta was ready to sink 30 foreign-flagged vessels caught fishing illegally in Indonesian waters, following a schedule being arranged by the authorities.
"Indonesia will not compromise with, and will be very tough in taking action against and in arresting foreign vessels caught fishing illegally in Indonesian waters. The violation committed by the 30 vessels is illegal fishing," Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Minister Susi Pudjiastuti told journalists on the sidelines of a two-day visit to the fishing town of Labuan Bajo, in Indonesia's eastern province of East Nusa Tenggara.
She was speaking from the deck of an Indonesian Maritime Surveillance Agency vessel in the waters off Labuan Bajo on Monday evening.
Ms Susi also revealed that the Indonesian Navy's Western Fleet had arrested three Vietnamese-flagged vessels for illegal fishing in Indonesian territory, in the latest incident of its kind.
The minister explained that the practice of sinking foreign vessels caught poaching was also followed by other countries.
Recently, Argentina sank a foreign vessel after it was caught fishing illegally in the country's waters, she said. "So my policy and firm action (to combat illegal fishing) are recognised by the international community. I'm taking such a policy in line with the directive of the President.
Indonesia will not compromise with, and will be very tough in taking action against and in arresting foreign vessels caught fishing illegally in Indonesian waters.
MARITIME AFFAIRS AND FISHERIES MINISTER SUSI PUDJIASTUTI
"I'm working and carrying out this policy... not for my interests but for the sustainability of Indonesian fisheries and maritime affairs and for the sake of a more prosperous life for fishermen across Indonesia."
She said excessive fishing by foreign poachers in Indonesian waters had inflicted great losses on both the country and its fishermen.
Currently, she said, the Indonesian authorities were striving to clean up the country's waters by removing undersea nets that poachers used to catch fish and lobsters with roe.
"I'm really firm about taking tough action against any vessels caught fishing illegally. I will sink all such vessels," she added.
Earlier, during a dialogue with local fishermen at the Labuan Bajo fish landing facility, the minister announced that President Joko Widodo had signed a regulation on illegal fishing that bans foreign vessels from fishing in Indonesian waters.
In April, Ms Susi led the blowing up of 23 foreign fishing boats caught poaching in Indonesian waters.
THE JAKARTA POST/ASIA NEWS NETWORK