Batam, Riau Islands (ANTARA News) - Indonesia and Malaysia have agreed to protect their traditional fishermen who have been carried away by sea currents into each other`s territorial waters.

"In case traditional fishermen cross their countries` sea border unknowingly or by the forces of nature, they will not be captured but ordered to return," Indonesian Fisheries and Marine Resources Minister Fadel Muhammad said here on Monday.

The two countries also agreed to help traditional fishing boats that had gone astray to return to their countries` waters and not to capture or punish them.

Fadel said traditional fishermen never deliberately crossed the border, adding they crossed the border because they had been carried away by sea currents and not because they wanted to fish illegally in another country`s waters.

He said fishermen operating on boats weighing five to 10 GT as traditional boats would be categorized as traditional fishermen.

He said if ships that cross the border are big ships efforts would be made to capture them.

"Boats may be captured if they are big," he said.

The minister said a lot of foreign ships have been poaching fish in the Riau Islands waters so far, mostly from China, Vietnam and Thailand.

Editor: Priyambodo RH
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