Jakarta (ANTARA) - At least 470 fishermen from Java's coast have registered to operate in the Natuna waters in Riau Islands province, the Coordinating Minister for Political, Legal and Security Affairs, Mahfud MD, said.

"There are 470 fishermen who have registered to operate in the waters of Natuna. This is to show that the waters is ours," Mahfud said here on Wednesday.

Fishermen from other regions such as Sulawesi and Maluku are also keen to register to operate in the Natuna waters, the minister said after meeting with Transportation Minister, Budi Karya Sumadi.

Mahfud could not give further details about the plan but said that it would materialize soon.

Previously, Mahfud said that fishermen from all over the country have expressed their readiness to operate in the Natuna waters following China's illegal incursions into the nation's exclusive economic zone (EEZ) in the area.

"They heard the news and sent messages saying they are ready to join (other fishermen) to operate in Natuna. Many of them came from Makassar, Papua, Maluku, and other regions. The fishermen from Pantura (the northern coast of Java) are ready," he remarked.

The government would support the fishermen with adequate fuel oil, fish storage, and traders to absorb their fish production.

The government aims to counter China's claim over parts of its EEZ by mobilizing a fleet of fishing vessels to occupy and exercise their exclusive rights in waters where the authorities have spotted Chinese coast guard vessels still operating.

Over the past few days, Chinese fishing vessels have been trespassing into Indonesia's EEZ in the Natuna waters. The fishing vessels were escorted by the Chinese coast guard in the waters, some 130 miles off Ranai waters, Natuna.

The Indonesian Navy has deployed eight warships to patrol and secure the waters.

In response to these ongoing violations, President Jokowi was unequivocal in his declaration that Indonesia will not negotiate with any party over its sovereignty, particularly regarding the country's territory in the Natuna waters in Riau Islands.

The Indonesian Foreign Ministry had also protested by summoning China's ambassador in Jakarta.

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Translator: Zuhdiar Laeis, Sri Haryati
Editor: Rahmad Nasution
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