President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo accompanied by Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Minister Edhy Prabowo visit Natuna in the Riau Islands on Wednesday. (Antara Photo/M. Risyal Hidayat)

Chinese Fishing Boats Leave North Natuna Sea After Jokowi's Visit


JANUARY 09, 2020

Jakarta. Chinese fishing boats trespassing Indonesia's exclusive economic zone in the North Natuna Sea have left the area, soon after President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo visited the disputed territory on Wednesday. 

"Air Force [TNI AU] surveillance has found Chinese vessels that were fishing illegally in the EEZ had left the area after President Joko Widodo's visit," Indonesian military (TNI) spokesman Maj. Gen. Sisriadi said.

Jokowi visited Natuna on Wednesday to meet hundreds of fishermen at the Natuna Integrated Marine and Fisheries Center (SKPT Natuna) in the Lampa Strait where he made a speech affirming Indonesia's sovereignty over the stretch of disputed waters that Indonesia calls the North Natuna Sea and China calls the South China Sea. 

"We have sovereignty over maritime resources in the Exclusive Economic Zone. The Maritime Security Agency [Bakamla] and the Navy are here to protect them," the president said.

Jokowi also went on board two warships, KRI Usman Harun and KRI Karel Satsuit Tubun, and visited an Integrated Navy Base in the Lampa Strait.

Foreign vessels are allowed to pass through the EEZ but forbidden from taking away marine resources from the area. 

Jokowi also used the opportunity to hand over land certificates to Natuna residents. A total of 26,000 plots are now certified, with 14,000-15,000 still uncertified. 

The Indonesian government has also encouraged fishermen to go fishing in the North Natuna Sea to scare off Chinese fishing boats before they could enter the EEZ again.