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03-01-06, 03:26 PM #1
Thai Thieves Abroad Anger Authorities
Think about this before you buy seafood in Thailand... it may be stolen from another country!
Thai fishermen dominate RI waters
Fadli, The Jakarta Post, Batam
The Indonesian Navy has been successful in arresting a number of Thai fishermen known to dominate illegal fishing activities in waters off Riau Islands province.
Of the 120 illegal fishing boats impounded by the Navy in the period January to December last year, 60 of them were from Thailand. They were equipped with deep-sea bottom trawls -- a fishing method prohibited in Indonesia -- to catch lobster, Napoleon fish and tuna.
The activity has concerned local fishermen because the Thais use modern equipment like bottom trawls and Global Positioning System equipment that can locate large fish shoals.
The security task force commander of the Navy's Western Fleet, Rear Admiral Budhi Suyitno, disclosed that 50 percent of the perpetrators hailed from Thailand.
"The Thai fishermen have gone too far. They have disregarded our (Navy) presence. Their mentality is like that of a thief. Since they have difficulty fishing in their own waters, they opt to search for fish in waters off Riau Islands province, which is not too far from their area," said the one-star general.
Illegal fishing in Riau Islands by Thai fishermen has become rampant following the fuel price increase on Oct. 1, because it has severely impacted on local fishermen. The scarcity of local fishermen at sea has prompted foreign fishermen, especially from Thailand, to capitalize on the opportunity.
In the second week of December, the Navy seized eight Thai fishing vessels along with 87 crew members caught stealing fish in Mapur, north of Bintan island, and around Natuna and Karimun -- all in Riau Islands' province.
"If the Thai vessels are caught fishing illegally in waters off Riau Islands once more, we'll sink their boats. This is not a joke. We will shoot them on the spot according to standard procedures," said Budhi.
The latest vessel impounded by the Navy was the Sor Sakkarin 17, with a crew of 13. The vessel was intercepted by the Navy in waters off Mapur on Tuesday. None of the crew were able to show documents or passports upon entering Indonesian waters.
A crew member on the Sor Sakkarin, Niran, 26, said that they were only traditional fishermen who worked for a fish supplier in Thailand, and the order to enter Indonesian waters came from their boss in Thailand.
They could catch as much as three tons of fish, especially lobster, Napoleon fish and tuna, in a single trip to Riau Islands.
"Each of us are paid 15,000 baht (Rp 3,600,000) for a single one-week trip. We don't know anything except for our boss' orders," said Niran, who along with his colleagues looked disheveled at the Navy's post in Punggur, Batam.
The Riau Islands provincial administration estimates that it loses hundreds of billions of rupiah each year from illegal fishing, especially from the use of deep-sea trawls by foreign fishing vessels that also damage coral reefs.
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