John Kerry speaking at the Our Ocean Conference in Nusa Dua, Bali, on Monday. (Antara Photo/Irsan Mulyadi)

Kerry Commends Indonesia's Efforts on Illegal Fishing

OCTOBER 30, 2018

Nusa Dua. Former United States secretary of state, John Kerry, has commended Indonesia for its efforts on tackling illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing, and emphasized that issues relating to the ocean are a global security challenge.

"Indonesia has been one of the most important countries in the world to hold other nations accountable for the abuse of entering exclusive economic zones and fishing illegally," Kerry told reporters after a meeting with Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Minister Susi Pudjiastuti on the sidelines of the 2018 Our Ocean Conference in Bali on Monday.

In his speech during the conference, Kerry said countries must come together to establish a treaty on international fishing regulations, which would include guidelines on how the rules should be implemented, and how to ensure transparency, accountability and enforcement.

"And that requires us to pay as much attention to preserving the ocean, as we are paying attention, or have historically, to arms and weapons through treaties on nuclear warheads, and cyber, and other challenges that we face," Kerry said.

"This is a security challenge for the planet and we need to treat it with much greater effect," he added.

Kerry, who is now a "visiting distinguished statesman" at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, initiated the Our Ocean Conference in 2014, while serving as secretary of state.

The challenge for the oceans, he added, is linked to the impact of climate change, as rising temperatures are changing the chemistry of the oceans and threatening sea life. It therefore becomes a global responsibility to tackle these issues.

Minister Susi said Indonesia was committed to supporting international efforts and does so through its leadership, as illustrated by its role as host of this year's Our Ocean Conference.

"We will continue to campaign for sustainable fisheries with other countries. Fighting for legal certainty on this matter will be a long process, but it's something we must do because time is running out," Susi said.

Indonesia has been working to declare illegal fishing a transnational organized crime, including seeking support from the United Nations.

Since becoming a minister in 2014, Susi has ordered the sinking of vessels, mostly from neighboring countries, caught fishing illegally in Indonesian waters, to deter perpetrators. Nearly 500 ships have been sunk as of September.