Thai boats seized, not sunk, in I'nesia

Thai boats seized, not sunk, in I'nesia

Two Thai fishing boats have been seized — not sunk — after being caught trawling illegally in Indonesian waters, a local media outlet reported.

The Jakarta Post reported that an Indonesian Navy warship arrested the two boats off Anambas in Riau Island province Dec 11, less than a week after sinking three Vietnamese vessels accused of illegal fishing in the same waters.

Thai sailors sit aboard the Indonesian Navy’s KRI Sultan Hasanuddin 366 warship Dec 12. (Photo courtesy Jakarta Post / Indonesia Western Fleet Command)

The Thai Overseas Fisheries Association and Songkhla Fisheries Association warned Thai fishing fleets Dec 12 to avoid Indonesian waters due to a policy imposed Dec 6 to sink all illegal foreign trawlers.

The two Thai boats, however, escaped sinking when the KRI Sultan Hasanuddin 366 Sigma-class vessel seized the 50-70-tonne boats. Crews in both boats, all believed to be Thai, failed to present proper documents. Both vessels and dozens of sailors were detained at the Tarempa naval base on Siantan Island, Anambas Islands regency.

The navy said one of the boats falsely used an Indonesian name and flew the Indonesian flag. Its registered owner, Henri Rivai, is Indonesian. All crew members, including the captain, however, were Thai, Armabar said. The second boat was named the Tawatesai, written in Thai script.

The cases are being handled by Navy investigators in Tarempa.

Indonesia has vowed to sink all ships stealing their fish in a bid by President Joko Widodo, better known as Jokowi, to protect domestic marine resources. Indecisive action in the past had led to the loss of 300 trillion rupiah (780 billion baht) a year from illegal fishing and 5,400 illegal trawlers illegally plied Indonesian waters, the Antara news agency quoted him as saying several times during his recent presidential campaign.

Jakarta backed up its threats by capturing 155 foreign boats through Tuesday and sinking three Vietnamese trawlers a day before the policy's official launch date.

Praporn Ekuru, chairman of the Songkhla Fisheries Association, admitted that Thai trawlers might be undeterred by sinking threats and would continue risking an incursion into Indonesian waters.

The illegal fishing in Indonesia continues even as the Thai industry has complained about hundreds of Vietnamese boats violating Thai territorial waters.

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