"The declaration gives Indonesia opportunities to arrive at some diplomatic agreements," the Secretary General of KIARA (Koalisi Rakyat untuk Keadilan Perikanan/People Coalition for Fishery Justice), a non-profit organization engaged in fishery and maritime affairs, Abdul Halim, said here on Monday.
According to him, the diplomatic benefits will be achieved if Indonesia, along with the ASEAN members and non-ASEAN countries, can strengthen and complement each other in combating illegal fishing.
On the contrary, he added, if the Indonesian government is found weak when it comes to conducting diplomacy, then the Bangkok Declaration will be rendered meaningless.
Therefore, Abdul Halim observed, the government should promote bilateral negotiations with the ten ASEAN member countries to end the menace of illegal fishing.
The Bangkok Declaration was a result of the High Level Regional Consultation on Development Cooperation Towards the ASEAN Community Economy (AEC) Sustainable Fisheries in Bangkok, Thailand, on August 3, 2016.
The event was attended by high level officials from ASEAN countries, with Indonesia being represented by the Ministers Expert Staff for Public Policy at the Ministry of Maritime and Fisheries Affairs, Achmad Poernomo, as the Chairman of the Indonesian delegation.
The meeting is aimed to show the seriousness of the ASEAN member countries and Japan to combat illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing as well as to improve the competitiveness of fishery products.
On the occasion, Achmad affirmed the Indonesian governments support for the declaration and its gesture that it will not compromise on the illegal fishing issue.
Indonesia has taken several steps to combat UUI fishing, such as establishing a task force for the purpose, policing the foreign fishing ships operating in Indonesia, restricting trawler and transshipment, sinking 176 illegal fishing ships, and participating in regional and international forums on the subject of eradicating IUU fishing.
"Indonesia has also ratified the FAO Port State Measure Agreement, mentioning that fishery ports will supervise IUU fishing. Therefore, those indulging in such illegal fishing will not be able to land their catch," Achmad explained.(*)