The Indonesian Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Ministry sunk on Monday an Antarctic toothfish fishing vessel, wanted by Interpol for alleged illegal fishing in areas across the world. The vessel was sunk in waters off Pangandaran Beach, West Java.
“Today, we are here to witness the realization of the Indonesian government’s commitment to transform Indonesia into a global maritime axis,” Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Minister Susi Pudjiastuti said after the sinking of Viking, a fishing vessel with a 1,322 gross tonnage.
The minister said Fishing Vessel Viking was a stateless vessel that had long carried out illegal fishing in waters across the globe. “The Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources [CCAMLR], a regional fisheries management organization [RFMO] in the Southern Antarctic Ocean, has categorized this vessel as an illegal fishing vessel,” said Susi.
She further said the sinking of FV Viking was Indonesia’s contribution as part of the global community to eradicate illegal fishing.
The Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Ministry says FV Viking was arrested in Indonesia’s Exclusive Economic Zone (ZEE), around 12.7 miles from Tanjung Uban, Bintan, Riau Islands, on Feb.26. “The vessel entered Indonesian territory without fulfilling its obligation to report its identity and shipping data to the country’s authorities as stipulated by Article 193 of Law No.17/2008 on shipping and Article 14 of Government Regulation No. 5/2010 on navigation,” the ministry reported.
The FV Viking’s Automatic Identification System (AIS) was reportedly turned off when it entered Indonesian territory. The vessel reportedly did not have a fishing permit. During their search, officers from the ministry’s Illegal, Unregulated and Unreported (IUU) Fishing Task Force, popularly known as Satgas 115, found 399 kilometer-long gillnets and 71 kilometer-long fishing net ropes. The ministry said that such equipment can damage fisheries resources and violates a Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Minister regulation on fishing and the placement of fishing equipment, which only allows a fishing boat to use 2.5 kilometer-long gillnets.
During the search, the Task Force, which was assisted by multilateral investigation support teams from Norway and Canada, said that FV Viking was a stateless vessel. “The Nigerian government has officially declared that the FV Viking is not registered in Nigeria,” it says.
The Task Force added that both the fishing report and navigation computer, two important items that could help ascertain where the FV Viking had been fishing, could not be found on board. “From documents found, we can reveal that the FV Viking often unloaded its catches in Thailand,” the Task Force said. “Several other documents also show that the FV Viking repeatedly stocked up on equipment in Singapore and carried out ship repairs in that country,” it further said, adding that the FV Viking was connected to a fishing company in Spain.
The ministry said those findings showed that the FV Viking had violated various international conservation regulations. It further said that countries needed to pay close attention to the business networks of FV Viking’s owner and operator as well markets where it sold its catches, such as Angola, the Congo, Malaysia, Singapore, Spain, the US and Vietnam.
“The FV Viking is clear evidence that illegal fishing is a transnational organized crime. Fishing crime disregards the sovereignty of many countries. Any sovereign country should not let this happen,” said Susi. “Indonesia will intensify cooperation with various countries to uncover the strategy used by the FV Viking and the real owner of the vessel,” she went on.
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