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Like Indonesia, Malaysia to sink illegal foreign fishing boats: minister

  • Instead of bombing vessels that trespass in its waters, Malaysia will sink them in a way that promotes the formation of artificial reefs and fish breeding, a Malaysian minister said after a fisheries summit in Jakarta.
  • Under president Joko Widodo, Indonesia has evolved into something of an enforcer of the seas.
  • The announcement from Malaysia is the latest sign of international approval for the policies of Jokowi, as he is known.

A Malaysian minister said the Southeast Asian nation would begin to sink rogue foreign fishing vessels that trespass in its waters.

The practice began to be employed in Indonesia after Joko Widodo became that country’s president 2014. More than 200 boats have been captured, evacuated and exploded by the Indonesian military in a practice Jokowi, as he is known, has termed “shock therapy.”

“We noticed that Indonesia’s radical measures against poaching had contributed to deflation and lowered fish prices due to bountiful catches,” the Malaysian minister of agriculture and agro-based industry, Ahmad Shabery Cheek, told local media after attending a regional fisheries summit in Jakarta this week.

Instead of blowing up the vessels, Malaysia will sink them in a manner that encourages artificial reefs to form, according to the minister.

Since Jokowi took office, Indonesia has sunk more than 200 illegal boats from other countries. Fisheries minister Susi Pudjiastuti, a former airline entrepreneur, has led the charge, in line with Jokowi’s pledge to turn Indonesia into a maritime power.

Pudjiastuti has said that as a result of her policies, which also include enforcing a ban on destructive trawl nets, Indonesians are catching more fish and the fisheries sector is growing faster than the economy as a whole.

The larger trend is one of fisheries decline — from 1970 to 2010, the population of fish used by humans fell by half, according to the World Wildlife Fund. Overfishing is the prime culprit.

The Fijian fisheries minister also expressed his admiration for Indonesia’s maritime policies.

“Susi is a real champion. She led the way [for the campaign] through the Asia-Pacific,” Oseea Naiqamu told the Jakarta Post at the summit on Wednesday.

The Viking explodes in Pangandaran, West Java, Indonesia, on March 14. Photo by Gary Stokes/Sea Shepherd Global.
The Nigerian-flagged Viking, the last of a notorious group of six illegal fishing vessels that had plied Antarctic waters for lucrative toothfish, was exploded after being captured by Indonesia in March. Photo by Gary Stokes/Sea Shepherd Global

Pudjiastuti has also directed a purge of foreign-made fishing boats, which purport to have been purchased from abroad by Indonesians but often serve as fronts for foreign-controlled operations.

The Malaysian minister’s announcement is the latest sign of international approval for Jokowi’s hard-line approach to the seas. Indonesia has actively hunted and captured a number of boats that were blacklisted by other countries for illegal activities elsewhere in the world.

Indonesian Fisheries Minister Susi Pudjiastuti on board the Viking, prior to its destruction. Photo by Gary Stokes/Sea Shepherd Global.
Indonesian fisheries minister Susi Pudjiastuti raises her fist aboard the Viking after its apprehension by Indonesian authorities. Photo by Gary Stokes/Sea Shepherd


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