INDONESIA — Boat charter operators in San Diego could only imagine borrowing this controversial practice from Indonesia to deter their illegal counterparts. In an article released by Scientific American, it was revealed that in Indonesia a task force has taken on illegal fishing boats in an explosive way – by actually blowing up them up.
The article reads, “To address the problem, Indonesia created a task force consisting of the country’s navy, marine police, coast guard and attorney general’s office. Task force members started out by aggressively capturing illegal foreign boats and deporting their crews. Then, to drive the point home, they cut, torched or dynamited holes in bottoms of the boats – sending hundreds of vessels to the seafloor to join the fishes they had sought.”
Surprisingly – or perhaps not so surprisingly considering the measures taken – it turns out Indonesia’s crackdown on illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing is working. In a report released in April, it was stated illegal practices had been reduced by more than 90 percent.
These extreme lengths to protect fishermen have been scrutinized by the media, scientists and many agencies around the world arguing the pirate-like tactics do not necessarily recover fish stocks.
Indonesia has taken efforts to deter illegal fishing through sharing vessel tracking data. This move was praised by conservationists, but said by some it could potentially backfire on the country’s best fisheries.
Director of Monitoring at the Ministry of Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, Goenaryo, rhetorically questioned, “If fishing businesses conduct accordingly to the regulations, why should they feel worried about being watched over?”
In addition to making sure illegal fishing practices ceased, an ocean campaigner for Greenpeace also said this could end slavery at sea and some human rights violators in fisheries.
On the negative side, Susi Pudjiastuti, Indonesia’s minister has destroyed hundreds of boats since 2014 from neighboring countries such as China, Thailand and Vietnam. The policies against illegal fishing have created tension in the foreign relations department and could potentially hurt the fishing industry, not to mention the amounts of property damaged by these policies.
Indonesia had cited a loss of nearly $14.89 million from the fishing industry, according to a report by Reuters.