Tue, 18 Apr 2000

Foeign ships violate Indonesia's borders

SEMARANG (JP): Over 3,500 foreign ships have conducted illegal entry to the country's waters over the past three years, Navy chief of staff Adm. Achmad Sutjipto said on Monday.

Speaking at a National Sea Seminar hosted by Diponegoro University, Achmad said that of 3,531 vessels detected trespassing Indonesia's sea jurisdiction since 1997, 2,437 were caught in eastern Indonesia.

The number of sea intrusions excluded 21 foreign warships violating the country's borders.

"To countries of these foreign warships we have given warning letters through their respective diplomatic representatives," Achmad said.

Achmad said, however, most of the violating civilian ships were released due to lack of evidence. Only 671 ships' captains, most of them fishing vessels, were proven guilty.

Despite the unsatisfactory results, the Navy pledged to intensify its patrols, according to Achmad.

The admiral identified several areas prone to foreign war ships violations such as the border off Natuna Island, Tarakan and Nunukan Sea in East Kalimantan, the waters off Marore and Niangas in Aceh and zones in Sumatra, Malaka Strait, Singapore Strait, Bangka, Belitung, Serutu islands, Sulawesi, Banda Maluku, Arafuru and Irian Jaya.

Achmad also said that between April 1999 and February this year the Navy checked on 1,418 foreign and domestic fishing ships.

"Of the total vessels checked in that period, captains of 156 were given strong warnings for breaching our fishing zones, 302 ships' captains are still in legal process, 33 captains have been put on trial while seven vessels were seized by the state.

"The rest were released due to insufficient evidence or declared not guilty by the court," Achmad said.

Another speaker in the seminar, Otto S.R. Ongkosono of the Indonesian Institute of Science (LIPI) suggested that in a bid to decrease illegal fishing within the country's borders, the government apply intensive controls and monitoring and of ships weighing over 50 tons.

The government also has set up a joint board to monitor the condition of coral reefs with LIPI, a number of nongovernmental organizations and foreign donors such as the Asian Development Bank and the World Bank.

The Coral Reefs Rehabilitation and Management Program board, set up in 1998, oversees 10 provinces where potential sea heritage sites are located, such as at Komodo Island in West Nusa Tenggara and Karimun Jawa in Central Java. (har/edt)