COUNTRIES in Southeast Asia are adopting Indonesia’s zero tolerance policy for illegal fishing in their waters, says the Indonesian government.
In a press release issued on Saturday, Indonesian fisheries minister Susi Pudjiastuti said that “several countries such as Laos, Myanmar and Cambodia, are also implementing a moratorium policy to restrict illegal fishing.”
“They have also established a fishery task force,” she said.
Fisheries are an important part of Indonesia’s economy and in 2014 it was estimated by the government that illegal fishing was costing it IDR101 trillion (US$7.6 billion) a year.
Under Susi’s leadership within Joko “Jokowi” Widodo’s Cabinet since 2014, Jakarta has pursued a hard-line approach to cracking down on illegal fishing in the country’s territorial waters.
Indonesia has detained foreign fishermen and destroyed more than 300 boats caught in its waters in recent years, including blowing up 60 boats last August to mark Indonesian independence day. Most boats have come from neighbouring countries like the Philippines, Malaysia and Thailand.
Susi’s tough approach has made her one of the most popular ministers in the government.
It has, however, led to some tension with other Asian nations, including last year when a Chinese coast guard vessel intervened as Indonesia attempted to detain a Chinese fishing boat near the South China Sea.
The Chinese owners of confiscated fishing boats pleaded with the government not to destroy their property last year, the minister declared “if there’s illegal fishing carried out by an American boat, we will sink it too.”
Speaking on the weekend Susi said, “I see that China and Thailand have tightened their fishing regulations. China has also issued a moratorium on licensing for their fishing vessels.”
Last week, the government destroyed 81 boats caught illegally fishing in Indonesian waters in 12 locations across the archipelagic nation.
Referring to the name one of the boats she witnessed being destroyed in Ambon in eastern Indonesia, Susi said “We hope that Sino is a symbol of our victory over fish poaching.”
“Some fishermen in Ambon of Maluku Province can catch fish that weighs four kilograms,” Susi added on Saturday.
“It is possible that a 30-kilogram tuna fish can appear near the sea shore if all of us begin implementing the policy and protecting the marine resources.”