Fed-up with Indonesian fishing trawler intrusion, Australian government is drawing up initiatives to retaliate against illegal fishing from Indonesia.
The Australia defense ministry has also set up surveillance to monitor a buildup of some 140 vessels in the Arafura Sea. This is an armada made up exclusively of Indonesian fishing trawlers. Australian defense chiefs have been summoned by the government to examine methods to stop Indonesian intrusion. The current doctrine is to intercept these boats. The defense minister of Australia stood firm on this issue: “This is about the defense of Australia and we are not going to muck about”. In 2005 alone, Australian authorities detained 280 illegal fishing vessels, and confiscated the fishing equipment as well as the harvest of another 327 vessels. "We have boarded almost 200 vessels in the last six months, we've apprehended close to 100, and we will continue to do that," the Defense Minister told the Australia media. Australia has also stepped up air patrols.
Australia maintained a tough “no-holds barred” policy with regards to Indonesian trawlers, and had rejected appeals from Jakarta to stop burning illegal fishing boats seized in Australian waters. The Australian authorities have burnt and destroyed illegal ships seized in operations against illegal Indonesian fishing as a warning after impounding them. Sometimes, the boats that are impounded are taken apart and sold for scrap in junkyards.
Australian intelligence also revealed that Indonesian illegal fishing has grown into a transboundary organized crime and needs to be nipped in its bud. Australia has made representation through its Foreign Minister Ian Macdonald to Jakarta to be more active in stopping illegal fishing trawlers from poaching in Australian territorial waters. In addition, such trawlers are now increasingly armed with advanced guidance systems to go after sharks fin and reef fish, destroying Australia’s marine environment in the process.
*Australia warns of crackdown on illegal fishing (The Star, Feb 19)
* Australia flags crackdown on Indonesian poachers (JP, Feb 19)