Indonesia sinks 86 Vietnamese fishing boats

By Nguyen Quy   August 23, 2018 | 05:56 pm PT
Indonesia sinks 86 Vietnamese fishing boats
A Vietnamese fishing boat in flames after the Indonesian military blew it up for fishing illegally, as seen in a file photo by AFP.
Indonesia has destroyed hundreds of foreign boats caught illegally fishing in its waters; 86 of these were Vietnamese.

Indonesian authorities on Monday scuttled 125 foreign vessels at 11 different locations in the country as part of greater efforts to prevent illegal poaching in its waters, The Star Online reported Thursday.

Among the sunk vessels were 86 Vietnamese-flagship boats, 14 from the Philippines and 20 Malaysian.

Indonesia’s Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Ministry spokeswoman Lily Pregiwati was quoted as saying the operation had not been announced earlier to avoid “straining relations” with neighboring countries.

The Indonesian government has said that illegal fishing is threatening the local fishing industry.

Vietnam has several times called on Indonesia not to use violations against Vietnamese fishing boats and fishermen in a way that goes against the strategic partnership between the two countries.

Earlier this year, in a meeting with Indonesian President Joko Widodo in India, Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc had expressed his hope that Indonesia would reconsider its policy of destroying foreign boats caught fishing illegally in its waters.

The controversial policy, enforced since President Joko Widodo took office in 2014, is part of Indonesia's tough measures to tackle what it says is a long-standing issue. So far, 488 fishing boats have been destroyed, many of them from Vietnam, Thailand, the Philippines, Malaysia and China.

The Indonesian government last month released 42 Vietnamese fishermen after detaining them for more than three months.

Vietnam’s Fisheries Resources Surveillance Department has said it is trying to raise awareness of maritime boundaries and international maritime laws among its fishermen. It is also conducting frequent patrols to prevent potential violations.

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