Indonesian authorities began sinking dozens of foreign fishing boats on the weekend that they had impounded – in a bid to deter illegal fishing by trawlers from neighboring countries.
Officials said some 51 boats from Vietnam, China and Malaysia will be scuttled in different locations over this and next week, The Jakarta Post reported.
On Saturday (May 4), more than a dozen boats were sunk off West Kalimantan province in Borneo Island near Pontianak.
The practice of sinking boats was suspended for a few months but was started again after a Vietnamese coastguard vessel rammed an Indonesian navy ship that was trying to capture an illegal trawling boat the previous weekend.
Susi Pudjiastuti, Indonesia’s fisheries minister, said the sinking of the boats was needed to serve as a warning for captains of illegal fishing vessels in neighboring countries.
“There’s no other way …If we don’t act firm, they will be even more daring. I believe these collisions will get worse one day, this will escalate,” Pudjiastuti was quoted as saying by AFP.
For other nations, sinking vessels might be scary but she considered it a “beautiful” solution for Indonesia, as lax regulations that allowed foreign vessels to fish in the area had caused her country to suffer serious economic losses.
Hundreds of foreign fishing vessels have been sunk since the Joko Widodo government took power in 2014.
As of a now, a dozen fishermen from the Vietnamese vessel that spurred the skirmish with navy authorities remain in custody in Indonesia.