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 Govt to pursue rogue ships after Benjina

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BerichtOnderwerp: Govt to pursue rogue ships after Benjina   vr 7 aug 2015 - 5:52

The Jakarta Post, Thu, August 06 2015

The government has vowed to capture 34 rogue vessels connected to the Benjina forced labor case, following new evidence of continued illegal fishing operations within Indonesia’s maritime border with Timor Leste and Papua New Guinea (PNG).

Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Minister Susi Pudjiastuti said on Wednesday that she would coordinate with Indonesian Naval commander Adm. Ade Supandi to conduct a sea patrol around the country’s southeastern border, where it is believed that the 34 vessels have been based in the wake of media exposure in the case of Benjina, Maluku.

Data from the ministry’s satellite has located 33 trawlers from the Antasena fleet and one cargo ship -- linked to PT Pusaka Benjina Resources (PBR), the firm accused of the slavery charges -- that fled to Papua New Guinea briefly after the government decided to stage a criminal inquiry into the Benjina case.

“This morning, I can report that the Silver Sea 2 cargo ship was spotted in Indonesia’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ) [and in light of this], I have asked the Naval commander to take swift action and capture [the vessels] for fleeing the scene of the crime in Benjina,” Susi told reporters during a press conference in Jakarta, on Wednesday.

In May, the Indonesian Police arrested seven suspects who were allegedly involved in the Benjina case, having tricked some 800 foreign workers onto the trawlers.

According to the Associated Press, local officials had managed to rescue hundreds of slaves thanks to a police tip-off, only to discover that a third of PT PBR’s 90 trawlers had fled the remote island and remained at large until today

Susi said she would ask the Navy to dispatch its Landing Platform Dock (LPD) vessels to secure the borders near Timor Leste and PNG, in the hope that they would be able to capture the Silver Sea 2, the 33 trawlers and all 1,000 crewmen onboard.

Additionally, Susi said she would send diplomatic notice to the PNG government, which is following in Indonesia’s footsteps by issuing a moratorium for foreign ships this month, in order to have the ships extradited, in the event that they were captured in our neighbor’s territory.

Separately, the National Police have evacuated 45 crewmen from Myanmar whom they suspect of being victims of human trafficking.

Head of the human trafficking unit under the police’s detective division, Adj. Sr. Comr. Arie Dharmanto, told The Jakarta Post that they were evacuated from Ambon, Maluku, after they received a tip-off from the Myanmarese Embassy.

“The 45 men were evacuated from Ambon, after which we had them placed in a hotel in Jakarta where they awaited questioning by police,” Arie said on Wednesday.

He said that the rescued men were aged between 20 and 50 years old, and that investigators had suspected them of being forced to work under falsified documents, much like the workers in the Benjina case.

Also on Wednesday, Asep Burhanuddin, the ministry’s director-general for marine resources and fisheries surveillance, announced that the ministry had managed to prosecute a total of 51 foreign and 41 local vessels for illegal poaching-related infractions as of August 5, up from last year’s total of 34 processed boats.

Another 36 vessels were currently undergoing the legal process, with 13 ready to be sunk, Asep said.

In a related development, Mas Achmad Santosa, the head of the illegal fishing prevention task force operating under the Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Ministry, released an update of the audit on foreign-made fishing vessels (Anev) on Wednesday by revealing that 80 percent of all audited vessels were guilty of operational and administrative infractions.

In the third installment of Anev, the task force recommended that 32 operators of 203 vessels be issued various penalties, including revoking or freezing their operational permits. Previously, the task force had issued similar recommendations for 29 operators and 562 vessels.

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