Indonesian coast guard wards off a foreign fishing boat in the North Natuna Sea on Feb. 24, 2019. (Photo courtesy of the Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Ministry)

Indonesia Lodges 'Strong Protest' Over Illegal Fishing by Chinese Vessels


DECEMBER 30, 2019

Jakarta. The Foreign Affairs Ministry summoned China's Ambassador to Indonesia Xiao Qian on Monday to lodge an official protest over alleged illegal fishing by Chinese vessels inside Indonesia's 200-nautical mile Exclusive Economic Zones in the Natuna Sea.

The ministry said in a statement that an inter-ministerial meeting had confirmed evidence of violations in the zones, called the EEZs.

"The ministry has summoned the Chinese ambassador to lodge strong protest against the incident. A diplomatic note has been delivered as well," the statement reads.
"Indonesia's EEZs have been determined by the UNCLOS [United Nations Convention for the Law of the Sea], by which China is bound," it says.

The ministry said Chinese vessels had committed illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing in Indonesian territorial waters. It also accused the Chinese Coast Guard of breaching Indonesia's maritime sovereignty in the Natuna Sea.

The statement reiterates that Indonesia does not have overlapping jurisdictions with China and that it never recognizes the so-called nine-dash line – a territorial claim by Beijing that encompasses 90 percent of disputed areas in the South China Sea and goes deep into Indonesia's EEZ.

Indonesia has renamed its EEZ north of the Natuna Island as the North Natuna Sea to assert its sovereign rights over the area.

The largest country in Southeast Asia also began operating a military base in Natuna last year to strengthen defense strategy in its northernmost area.

"China is one of Indonesia's strategic partners in the region and it's the responsibility of both countries to promote mutually beneficial relations based on mutual respects," the ministry said.