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 Graft blocks war on illegal fishing

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BerichtOnderwerp: Graft blocks war on illegal fishing   Graft blocks war on illegal fishing Icon_minitimevr 26 dec 2014 - 3:39

The Jakarta Post, Jakarta, Friday December 26 2014

A meeting held between the Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Ministry and the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) has shed light on potential graft that may hamper the ministry’s efforts to tackle illegal fishing carried out by foreign vessels in the country’s territorial waters.

After the meeting on Wednesday night, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Minister Susi Pudjiastuti said her office had handed over reports on the potential problems that the ministry could face in its war against illegal fishing as well as its efforts to effectively manage the country’s abundant maritime resources.

“We have discussed the potential problems with the KPK. The antigraft body has also followed up on the findings we submitted earlier on a number of fishing companies. The KPK found that some of the companies did not exist. We need to follow up on the findings,” Susi said during a press conference at KPK headquarters.

KPK chairman Abraham Samad, speaking after Susi, lambasted the National Police and the Attorney General Office (AGO), as well as the Indonesian Military (TNI) for not giving their full support to the Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Ministry in its efforts to combat illegal fishing.

“We have found that a number of institutions do not fully support the ministry’s policy. Earlier, the KPK signed an agreement with the AGO, the National Police and the TNI to protect the country’s natural resources. The agreement should provide the legal grounds for them to help the ministry destroy illegal vessels in our waters,” Abraham said.

On Dec. 5 in Tanjung Pedas waters near Siantan Island in Anambas Islands regency, Riau province, the Navy destroyed three Vietnamese boats caught illegally fishing in Indonesian waters.

In the press briefing, Susi also disclosed that the government had also sent home 1,928 Vietnamese fishing vessels that had earlier sought permits from Indonesian authorities to enter the Natuna Islands to avoid being engulfed by the Hagupit typhoon that recently struck some parts of the Southeast Asia region.

“No more Vietnamese boats are in our waters today. A small country like Vietnam has a huge number of vessels that could potentially enter our waters [to illegally fish]. These 1,928 vessels are mostly big, with a capacity of 700 gross tons. Think about how many vessels from other larger neighboring countries could have entered our waters,” Susi said.

The waters around the Natuna and Anambas islands have an abundance of fish, as they are located where warm and cold streams meet, providing an ideal environment for both plankton and fish to thrive.

Local fishermen, however, have faced poor living conditions for years, with the majority of them catching fish using traditional methods and small boats.

“After the implementation of the sinking policy, I received many text messages from fishermen saying that they are now able to catch more fish. The government has to implement the policy consistently and I need support from relevant institutions,” Susi said.

The KPK has also called on law enforcement agencies to annul regulations that could block the ministry’s efforts to take tough actions against foreign vessels illegally enter Indonesian waters. Abraham then reiterated the KPK’s full support for Susi’s policy, saying that more concrete efforts were needed to save the resources.

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