Edhy Prabowo, right, at the Aquatica Asia & IndoAqua Expo in Balai Kartini, Central Jakarta, on Wednesday. (JG Photo/Diana Mariska)

Illegal Fishing Remains Enemy Number One: Minister


NOVEMBER 08, 2019

Jakarta. New Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Minister Edhy Prabowo on Wednesday declared his commitment to continue his predecessor Susi Pudjiastuti's much-praised hardline stance against illegal fishing.

Edhy, a politician from the Great Indonesia Movement Party (Gerindra), said illegal fishing remains the country's "enemy number one."

The former personal assistant of Prabowo Subianto, the chairman of Gerindra and now Indonesia's new Defense Minister, came into the cabinet right on the heels of the highly popular Susi, who almost single-handedly transformed Indonesia's handling of illegal fishing from meek to gung ho. 

The chain-smoking, tattooed high school dropout was known as "the minister who blows up illegal fishing boats," and became famous for her catchphrase "Tenggelamkan!" ("Sink it!"), now the subject of thousands of internet memes. 

Edhy said under his leadership the ministry will continue working with other organizations to continue Susi's policy. 

"We are not alone. The Navy and the Air and Water Police [Airud] are always with us. Every stakeholder in the maritime sector is also with us," Edhy said in Jakarta.

The minister said he looked forward to reaffirming commitment to combat illegal fishing inside his ministry.

"I will talk to the inspectors of the Maritime and Fisheries Monitoring Task Force [PSDKP]. I want them to reaffirm their commitment to guard [our territorial waters]," Edhy said. 

"There had been rumors in the past that the PSKDP were also involved [in illegal fishing]. We want to quash those rumors," he said.

The minister said however that he would pursue a more lenient approach to individual fishermen who break the law. 

"When dealing with [individual] fishermen, we can't jump straight into the legal process. We've communicated with the Attorney General, later we will also communicate with the Navy and the National Police... we will prioritize a persuasive approach for individual fishermen who break the law, [for example] by training them," Edhy said. 

Asked if he would produce a breakthrough for the Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Ministry just as his predecessor Susi had done, Edhy appeared reluctant to jump the gun. 

"I would not say breakthrough, more like an improvement. In her era, there were some good breakthroughs that need to be continued. I will try to perfect what's already there, by removing obstacles and bottlenecks in the system," he said. 

"The most crucial thing is that communication between my ministry and all the stakeholders [in the maritime sector] should be open and two-way," Edhy said.

Aquatica Asia & IndoAqua 2019

On Wednesday, Edhy also opened a seminar and exhibition event called the "Aquatica Asia & IndoAqua 2019" at Balai Kartini in Central Jakarta.

The expo was organized by the Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Ministry in partnership with event organizer Global Permata Perkasa (GPP).

GPP President Director Ruri Sarasono, also the head of the event, said the expo was a merger of the event organizer's Aquatica Asia annual event and the ministry's more internal IndoAqua event. 

"The current event brings all the stakeholders in the fisheries sector together in one place. There are corporations, associations, academics and, of course, the government. We hope the expo can give space for new entrepreneurs in the fisheries sector," Ruri said.