PONTIANAK, KOMPAS.com – Indonesia continues to have their hands full with foreign ships poaching fish from the North Natuna Sea off the Riau Islands province, after the Ministry of Marine Affairs and Fisheries recently caught five Vietnamese trawlers in the waterway.
Ministry of Marine Affairs and Fisheries Secretary-General Antam Novambar said its Directorate General of Marine and Fisheries Resources Surveillance [PSDKP] vessels nabbed the Vietnamese trawlers last Thursday and brought them to the PSDKP station in Pontianak, West Kalimantan.
“The Vietnamese trawlers attempted to escape the PSDKP ships closing in on them. We noted that their modus operandi differed from their predecessors because they were targeting squid,” said Antam in a press statement.
“We also detained 28 crewmen manning these ships, all of whom are Vietnamese nationals, and prosecute them according to Indonesian laws.”
The Ministry’s Director General of Marine and Fisheries Resources Surveillance Pung Nugroho Saksono backed Antam. “The Vietnamese trawlers have been found with squid nets. This equipment is different from the trawling nets used to catch fish at shallower depths,” he said.
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“This means that illegal foreign fishing vessels are targeting Indonesian marine resources. This is one of the reasons why we will bolster monitoring of the Natuna Sea, Malacca Straits, and the seas around Sulawesi.”
Antam acknowledged that Indonesia’s waters, particularly those in the country's Exclusive Economic Zone or EEZ like the North Natuna Sea, are fair game for illegal foreign fishing trawlers because of the country’s vast seas and rich catch.
“Foreign fishing vessels have an edge in catching fish, as they use state of the art methods of hauling in their catch from the open seas, despite their relatively small size of 28 to 30 tons,” he said.
“The North Natuna Sea can potentially bring in Rp. 120 trillion [$8,203,644,000] in annual revenue. Yet illegal foreign fishing vessels cost the state Rp. 30 trillion [$2,050,842,000] in lost fish catches.” Antam assured that this does not lessen the authorities’ commitment to guard Indonesia’s waters.
The Ministry of Marine Affairs and Fisheries has caught 72 ships for illegally fishing on Indonesian waters in the first half of 2021, including seven Vietnamese ships and five Malaysian vessels. Indonesian ships still make up the majority of illegal fishing boats with 60 vessels.
(Writer: Hendra Cipta, Pontianak Contributor | Editor : Dony Aprian, Teuku Muhammad Valdy Arief)