Indonesia Will Stop Sinking Fishing Boats
The government of Indonesia has ordered its maritime affairs and fisheries minister, Susi Pudjiastuti, to stop sinking fishing boats caught operating illegally in Indonesian waters.
“The [ministry] has been told not to sink ships this year," Coordinating Maritime Affairs Minister Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan told media. "It is enough to sink boats. Now, we will focus on efforts to increase fisheries production, so that our fishery exports will increase." Vice president Jusuf Kalla elaborated in an interview with the newspaper Kompas, suggesting that the sinking policy was affecting Indonesia's relations with other nations. Fishing boats that are found violating regulations will now be subject to confiscation, not destruction.
In 2014, when Pudjiastuti took her post, the Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Ministry began burning, blowing up or sinking confiscated fishing boats, a politically popular policy that was intended to send a stern message to foreign fishermen who attempt to fish Indonesian waters without permission. Since these vessel disposals began, the ministry has destroyed a total of nearly 380 boats, often in dramatic fashion. On one Saturday last April, the ministry blew up or sank 81 vessels in 12 locations around the country.
In an interview with Antara News on Thursday, the ministry's director of capture of fisheries, Sjarief Widjaja, said that the boat destruction policy had contributed to a restoration of the nation's fish stocks. "Sinking foreign ships caught fishing illegally has resulted in an increase in fish stocks from 6.5 million tons [six years ago] to 9.9 million tons," he said. Widjaja added that with more fish in the water, Indonesia's own fishermen had more encouragement to put out to sea and generate income.
Leonardo Marbun, secretary of the North Sumatran Fishermen Alliance (ANSU), agreed with this assessment. “There used to be fishing boats from Thailand and Vietnam in North Sumatran waters. Since the ministry implemented the boat-sinking policy, they have become afraid to enter our territory,” he told the Jakarta Post. “Traditional fishermen no longer have to compete against them.”