SEAFish (22/6/15) – Indonesian fishermen on National Fishermens Day on Monday called for the thorough elimination of illegal fishing, including those financing poachers, so that fishermens welfare can be improved.
“National Fishermens Day 2015 is observed across the country, especially in Banda Aceh, Buton, Manado, Semarang, and Jakarta,” Secretary-General of the Peoples Coalition for Fisheries Justice (Kiara) Abdul Halim said on Monday.
Illegal fishing in Indonesian waters by large foreign vessels is one of the factors affecting traditional fishermen who are struggling to improve their prosperity.
Operations to eliminate illegal fishing from Indonesian waters should not be restricted to seizing illegal fishing boats. It should also take to court large companies providing financial backing for poachers.
Therefore, on the occasion of the fishermens day, he noted, several activities are held in various regions focusing on ways to improve the welfare of fishermen who are still living in poverty.
The fishermens day is observed to push the government to protect and improve the welfare of Indonesian fishermen.
The theme of the event reads: “Protect and Improve the Welfare of Indonesian Fishermen.”
To protect fishermen, Kiara earlier called on authorities to prosecute companies supporting illegal fishing. It should not only take action against fishing vessels poaching in Indonesian waters but also against the companies that own the vessels.
“Prosecution should not only stop poachers but should also take companies behind poaching to court,” Abdul Halim stressed on Thursday (March 26).
Hence, according to Halim, prosecution should be carried out not only for administrative violations but also for poaching because it violates the law.
According to the Unreported and Unregulated Fishing Task Force (IUU) team, prosecution for fish poaching in various regions by ships should also be carried out against corporations or financiers supporting the activity.
“The Task Force team has urged that besides illegal fishing, prosecution should also implicate companies (financial supporters),” the Task Force team chairman Mas Achmad Santoso said.
He suggested that court decisions be expanded to administrative sanctions such as the revocation of fishing business permits. This is intended to optimize efforts to entirely fight illegal fishing and eliminate poachers in the bud.
He cited that, based on regulations, any person or company involved in the fisheries sector is required to abide by the law and regulations on matters relating to areas, sea lanes, time, and fishing season.
The government, through the IUU Task Force team, is ready to carry out analysis and evaluation (Anev) or compliance audit of former foreign fishing boats of over 30 GT capacities.
“Anev is a compliance audit to check whether or not a former foreign ship is formally and materially owned by Indonesian citizens or Indonesian corporate bodies,” Santoso explained.
He noted that Aven is done to put in order former foreign fishing licenses during the fishing moratorium imposed from November 3, 2014 to April 30, 2015.
Earlier, the Indonesian Traditional Fishermen Union (KNTI) expressed hope that the government would optimize its efforts to empower fishermen in various regions in Indonesia so they can become masters in their own homes.
“Fishermen should become masters in their own waters,” KNTI Chairman M Riza Damanik said in Jakarta on Sunday.
Hence, the KNTI called on the organizations of fishermen and cultured fish farmers to continue increasing their participation in developing Indonesias marine resources.
“Building the capacity of fishermen is the key to fighting illegal fishing in the country,” he added.
He observed that without the participation of fishermen, the efforts to fight illegal fishing will only end as pragmatic works and the wastage of funds such as what happened under the previous governments.
However, he also admitted, there have been mafia activities behind illegal fishing. Damanik pointed out that mafia in the fisheries sector has been strong as indicated by the recent revelation of two legal cases in the fisheries sector.
“The KNTI is aware that the fisheries sector has a very strong mafia presence. Our law enforcers should prioritize arresting the main players in illegal fishing,” the KNTI chairman remarked on Sunday.
The main players in illegal fishing who operate furtively behind national/foreign firms, bureaucracy, and even law enforcement institutions should be exposed, he emphasized.
He remarked that the revelations of the two latest cases in the fisheries sector indicate that the legal process in the country over the past five months has had insignificant deterrent effects.
The two cases are light punishment meted out to a giant four thousand gross tonnage (GT) Panama-flagged MV Hai Fa fishing vessel and the slavery case of fishermen in Benjina, Aru Island, Maluku.
“The disclosure of slavery in Benjina, Aru Island, Maluku, and the MV Hai Fa case indicate that the execution of the law in the fisheries sector over the past five months has yet to show significant deterrent effects,” Damanik affirmed on Sunday.
He pointed out that Indonesian law enforcers should have set an example to the world with their firm stance to uphold the law in a just and professional manner.
With regard to the Panamanian ship, Damanik stated that law enforcers should uphold the law by confiscating the ship, with an indictment filed for committing the direct crime of fish poaching.
“MV Hai Fa was caught red-handed loading fish, including protected species and those not allowed to be caught, traded, or exported without proper documents and has violated the Vessel Monitoring System (VMS)” he noted.
However, Damanik admitted that the efforts to fight poachers will be successful only with the participation of fishermen. (source: ASEAN Food)