Currently, 72 illegal fishing boats are under government custody by order of the court. (Antara Photo/M.N. Kanwa)

No Susi, No Cry: Indonesia to Stop Sinking Illegal Fishing Boats


NOVEMBER 20, 2019

Jakarta. The government is mulling over a new approach to deal with illegal fishing boats caught in Indonesian waters. Now, instead of sinking them, the government will give the boats to local fishermen, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Minister Edhy Prabowo said on Tuesday. 

The plan would reverse a policy so adamantly implemented by Edhy's predecessor, Susi Pudjiastuti, who often argued that illegal fishing boats that did not rest in the bottom of the ocean always find their way back to their owners.  


Susi's hardline stance meant she was often at loggerheads with the Coordinating Minister for Maritime Affairs and Investment Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan, who thought the boats could be put to better use.

Susi was known to have avoided meetings with Luhut, her superior, several times. 

The new man on the job, however, said he would not find himself in the same situation.

"We hope these [boats] could be of some use [to us], we could benefit [from them].... We could donate them to local fishermen, for example," Edhy said. 

According to Edhy, currently there are 72 illegal boats under government custody by order of the court. Of these, 45 are in good condition, six boats had to be destroyed and the rest were in poor condition.

The minister said the boats could be given away to fishermen, co-operatives, local governments or universities to be used in training.

Edhy also promised the government would keep eye on the boats periodically to ensure they are not sold back to the original owners.

"We will check every month or two to see if they are being used, damaged or sold off," Edhy said.

In addition, the ministry is trying to come up with solutions for unused foreign boats docked at local ports.

Susi forbade the use of foreign ships in Indonesian waters, suspecting that they were being widely used for illegal fish transshipment – the transfer of fish in the middle of the ocean to other ships for illegal exports. 

"We have many ex-foreign vessels [docked at our ports]. There must be a way to make use of them. Some of them have been ordered by local businessmen from abroad, but once they entered Indonesia, the rules had changed so they weren't able to go to sea," Edhy said.