Indonesia frees 27 Vietnamese fishermen in first batch this year

By VnExpress   March 13, 2017 | 07:51 pm GMT+7

There are still about 150 Vietnamese fishermen in Indonesia's custody, a Vietnamese diplomat in Jakarta said.

Indonesia has handed over 27 fishermen Monday to Vietnam at Soekarno Hatta International Airport, Vietnam Plus reported.

The released fishermen, who were among the first batch consisting of 74 Vietnamese fishermen that Indonesian authorities set to release this year, had been detained between four months to a year for illegally fishing in Indonesian waters. Most of them came from Vietnam's southern coastal provinces.

Tran Y, one of the returning fishermen, admitted their wrongdoing. "It was our fault. We strayed into Indonesia's territorial waters despite warnings from Vietnamese authorities," Y was quoted as saying in the report. "After returning, I might give up my seafaring career... and will find another job."

This latest detainment piles up on top of the 16 Vietnamese fishing vessels and a total of 170 fishermen that Indonesian forces have arrested since the beginning of this year.

Right after the release of 27 fishermen, Indonesia has reported that an additional 10 Vietnamese vessels with about 60 fishermen aboard had been detained for encroaching into Indonesian waters.

"About 150 fishermen still remain in custody in Indonesia, waiting for procedures to be completed so they can return home," said Nguyen Thanh Giang, an official in charge of consular affairs at Vietnam's Embassy in Jakarta.

The figure is expected to increase in the coming time once the fishing season starts, he said.

Based on reports from the immigration department in Indonesia's province of Riau, the country is currently holding 83 Vietnamese fishermen in custody on Tarempa Island, up from nearly 70 for the entire 2016.

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