Thu, 27 May 2004

Fishery officials accused of granting Thai trawlers permits

Apriadi Gunawan, Medan

A North Sumatra councillor has alleged that many Thai trawlers operating in North Sumatra waters had obtained fishing permits from the provincial fisheries office.

Member of Commission VI of the legislative council (DPRD) Abdi Nusa Tarigan said that dozens of Thai trawlers had obtained permits and were now depleting fishery resources in the area.

He said that the documents were fishing (SIP) and fish trading (IUP) permits issued by the North Sumatra fisheries office.

"Based on our information, the permits were issued by the fisheries office from Nov. 5 to Dec. 2, 2004," he said at the DPRD office in Medan on Tuesday.

He said that in addition to the permits, they also possessed ship documents with specifications not in conformity with their vessels. He was worried that the uncontrolled issuance of permits could severely affect the livelihoods of Indonesian traditional fishermen.

"It will cost us even more if they also employ foreign crews," said Abdi.

According to Abdi, the issuance of fishing permits to foreign trawlers to operate in Indonesian waters was in breach of Ministry of Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Decree No. 10/2003 on fishery permits and Presidential Decree No.39/1980 on trawling.

"We shall summon the head of the maritime affairs and fisheries office to demand an explanation of the matter," he said.

Meanwhile, head of the North Sumatra maritime affairs and fisheries office Ridwan Batubara, when asked for comments on the matter, objected and said that he had not issued such permits until now.

"We have investigated the problem and discovered that our permits have been copied by businessmen from the Indonesian Fishermens Association in Tanjung Balai. They have apologized and promised not to do it again. If they do, we shall report the case to the police," Ridwan told The Jakarta Post.

He said that such dishonesty continued unhindered due to a conspiracy between local and foreign businessmen. He admitted that it was difficult to infiltrate and expose the network of the unscrupulous businessmen.

"We plan to patrol in cooperation with the Navy and Water and Air Police to intercept foreign vessels operating in our waters in the near future," he said.