Batam (ANTARA News) - The Ministry of Marine Affairs and Fisheries along with the Navy here on Monday sunk a Thailand-flagged illegal fishing vessel that was caught in the Natuna sea, Riau province, last October 30.

"The sinking of the ship proves that we are serious about eradicating illegal fishing practices in our seas. This is also an effort to protect our countrys sovereignty," Minister of Marine Affairs and Fisheries Susi Pudjiastuti said here after witnessing the sinking.

The ship, KM Laut Natuna 28, that weighed 80 Gross Ton was drowned in the Dempo Strait, 60 nautical miles from Batam island. Three Indonesian Navy ships and three observatory ships of the Ministry of Marine Affairs and Fisheries were involved in the operation.

A local authority who helped intercept the illegal ship in the Natuna sea last October 30 stated the captain and 11 crew members on board (all Thai nationals) were catching fish when they were caught. There were some 100 kilograms of fish of various kinds inside the boat. It had Indonesian name KM Laut Natuna 28 written on its left hull while the right side of the hull had the name KM Sudhita on it.

"That was done to outwit our officers in sea," Susi pointed out.

So far, Indonesia has not tapped its full fishing potential and the country remains weak in protecting its marine sector, which has the potential to earn US$1.2 trillion a year, officials observed.

The countrys weak control over its marine wealth has enabled foreign poachers to steal its fish, which, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization, amounts to Rp300 trillion per annum.

Based on the calculations of the Peoples Coalition for Fisheries Justice, the state lost Rp101 trillion to illegal fishing between January and August 2014; some 1.6 million tons were illegally fished from Indonesian waters during this period.

Therefore, the governments move to sink illegal fishing vessels has gained wide support at home and the people hope that the action will continue until the countrys waters are cleared of poachers.

Earlier, Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi had noted the move to sink foreign vessels was neither illegal nor barbaric. The move was expected to act a deterrent against illegal fishing and would stop poachers from entering Indonesian waters. It would also assure Indonesias maritime economic sovereignty, he had stressed.(*)

Editor: Heru Purwanto
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