Jakarta. Ministry of Maritime Affairs and Fisheries said it will keep its ship-sinking policy to combat illegal fishing in Indonesian waters, despite criticism by Coordinating Maritime Affairs Minister Luhut Pandjaitan and Vice President Jusuf Kalla.
Fisheries Minister Susi Pudjiastuti on Thursday (11/01) said the ministry will uphold the controversial policy to deter illegal fishing.
"I explained the ship-sinking policy many times on YouTube videos, there's no need to debate it any more," Susi told reporters at the ministry's building.
In a video posted by the ministry yesterday, Susi said the ship-sinking policy is not her "trademark," and has been implemented in accordance with the 2009 Law on Fisheries.
"The ship-sinking is neither Susi's nor Jokowi government's idea or hobby," she said in the clip, referring to President Joko Widodo by his nick name.
The minister added that the policy has contributed to the country's welfare by protecting its fish resources, and will support economic growth in the future.
Previously, Luhut said there would be no more sinking this year, as the government will instead focus on increasing seafood production.
"The Ministry of Maritime Affairs and Fisheries was informed that there will be no ship-sinking. This is an order. Let's focus on how to increase fish production to boost our exports," Luhut said, as quoted by state news agency Antara.
Separately, Kalla has also spoken in favor of Luhut's decision, as ship-sinking can affect Indonesia's relations with other countries.
Last year, the ministry failed to reach its seafood export target of $7.62 billion. Fish exports were worth only $3.62 billion in October.
In 2017, 128 foreign vessels were seized and 127 of them were sunk by the Navy, as they had no permission to be and fish in local waters.
Since 2014, 363 foreign vessels have been scuttled. Most of them were Chinese fishing boats.