Nusa Dua, Bali (ANTARA News) - Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Minister Susi Pudjiastuti said her ministry is planning to cooperate with China to overcome illegal fishing by Chinese citizens in Indonesian waters.
"We are planning to cooperate with the countries of origin of fish poachers, one of which is China. Poachers do not represent countries, but crimes," the minister said when contacted on Thursday.
The cooperation was established so that China would take action against its citizens, who fish illegally in the Indonesian waters, Susi said.
"Without the assistance of China, it is impossible for us to eradicate the sea crimes in our waters," she added.
Susi pointed out three development pillars in Indonesias maritime development, namely protection of Indonesian waters, assurance of the continuation of Indonesias marine resources and prosperity of the Indonesian people.
As an island country with water areas greater than its land area, Indonesia is prone to illegal fishing and the most dangerous one is when the sea is used as a place for committing a crime, particularly fish poaching.
Currently, she said, Indonesia is doing its best to fight against organized transnational crimes, such as illegal fishing.
Based on the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) in 2015, Illegal, Unreported and Unregistered (IUU) fishing stole the world fish resources by up to 90.1 percent. Indonesia suffered economic losses from IUU fishing amounting US$20 million per annum.
"Not only that, illegal fishing also harmed the interests of small fishermen," Susi said.
On Wednesday, Minister Susi shared her views on fighting illegal fishing at the 85th General Assembly of the Interpol here.
She spoke at the conference about various efforts taken by her ministry to eradicate Illegal Unreported and Unregulated Fishing (IUU), by setting up an IUU fishing task force called Task Force 115.
"They were very enthusiastic when they heard about the Task Force 115, which is manned by personnel from several institutions, such as the Water Police, the Navy, the Prosecutor Office and the Sea Security Agency (Bakamla)," Susi told delegates of the conference, which was held at the Bali Nusa Dua Convention Center (BNDCC).
Several delegates from Africa even requested Indonesia to assist in handling illegal fishing cases on the African continent.
"The Task Force 155 is an example of task forces needed by many countries," she said.
During the session, Susi said she did not hesitate in calling for firm action against fish poachers. "Illegal fishing is a theft in the Indonesian waters. So, I have to act upon it," she added.
According to the minister, the matter imparted momentum to improving the legal certainty regarding fish poaching in Indonesia.
"I think the reform momentum should be utilized now. The government is taking actions to provide legal certainties through legal and regulation reforms. This has given us the energy to move on. Now is the time for us to provide legal certainty," she said.
The minister further said the weakness of Indonesia so far is its shortage of legal certainties. "Now we provide legal certainties to those who commit violations and we sink them (illegal fishing boats). It should not be considered a cruel action. After all, many have demanded that we should provide legal certainties."
Susi added that people must be happy when the government takes firm actions and not adversely complain. "We have to emphasize this so that thieves do not disturb the economy of this country."(*)