The Indonesian Navy destroys foreign fishing vessels caught fishing illegally in waters near North Sulawesi yesterday. Photo: REUTERS
Divers and scientists report that Indonesia's reefs are missing their big fish. The mother of all reefs is, and has been, over exploited by illegal foreign fishing ships. Some ships are trawlers that kill everything in the path of it's large and deadly nets. As a result, the coastal communities of Indonesia are fishing for juvenile fish and other protein that they can grind into fishmeal and use as feed for coastal prawn farms.
National Geographic reports.
Indonesia is at the center of the Coral Triangle, one of the most biologically diverse areas in the world with over 76% of the world’s coral species and 37% of the world’s reef fish species within its boundaries. Global trends for this region demonstrate that fishing effort has been and is increasing at a faster rate than any other region of the world’s oceans. Fishery management is failing to reach sustainability. Recent studies have shown that the increase of fishing pressure is threatening the health of fish stocks, impacting coral health, and resulting in underperforming fisheries. This is significant considering that 50% of the protein intake by thousands of coastal communities comes from fish and that hundreds of thousands of people – including many women – have a job direct or indirectly related to Indonesian fisheries.The good news out of Jakarta yesterday is that the government has had it with this problem and sank a large Chinese fishing vessel. They also sank 40 other foreign boats that had been caught fishing illegally in Indonesian waters. Beijiing is not expected to take this news lightly. Other regional capitals will bristle as well.
To date, the challenges of enforcing, monitoring, and controlling catch and effort regulation in Indonesia’s multi-species, multi-gear fisheries have been considered too high. The culprits were considered to be foreign fleets, legal or illegally operating inside Indonesian waters. Also, local fishers would point to roaming groups of dynamite and cyanide fishers as a major problem. Until now, not much thought has been given to how local coastal fishers contribute to overfishing. Since the transmigration programs and programs that provide subsidized technology, today and every day, an armada of hundreds of thousands of small and medium scale fishers put their fishing gears in waters inside the 4-nautical mile zone, along all coasts of the Indonesian archipelago
The 300 gross tonne Chinese vessel was destroyed with a low-explosive device on its hull in West Kalimantan, said Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Minister Susi Pudjiastuti.
“This is not a show of force. This is just merely (us) enforcing our laws,” Ms Susi was quoted as saying by The Jakarta Post.
The Gui Xei Yu 12661 is the first Chinese boat to be sunk since Indonesian President Joko Widodo declared war on illegal foreign fishing boats last December.
The Indonesian Navy detained Gui Xei Yu in 2009 after it was caught fishing near the South China Sea, a hotly disputed area involving China and South-east Asian nations such as Malaysia and Vietnam.
Besides the Chinese ship, the authorities also destroyed 40 other vessels in different places across the country. They included five boats from Vietnam, two boats from Thailand and 11 from the Philippines, The Post reported.
Shortly after assuming office last October, Mr Widodo launched a campaign to protect Indonesia’s maritime resources and domestic fishing industry, which loses billions of dollars in revenues to illegal fishing each year. He has also pledged to transform Indonesia into a maritime power and, in December last year, orchestrated a much-publicised sinking of three empty Vietnamese vessels.