Mon, 16 Oct 2000

Sarwono warns against illegal sea exploitation

SEMARANG (JP): Minister of Maritime and Fisheries Sarwono Kusumaatmadja lamented again on Saturday that much of the country's marine resources were being exploited by foreigners or parties who choose to ignore prevailing regulations.

Speaking to a group of local fishermen at Diponegoro University, Sarwono estimated that illegal foreign fishing in Indonesian waters had inflicted losses of Rp 32 trillion.

"I hope the courts take tough action against illegal fishermen caught in our waters," he said.

He further warned that due to depleting reserves in other oceans, many foreign ships were eyeing Indonesian waters. As a consequence of overfishing, some Indonesian waters are showing signs of depleted fish stocks.

Efforts by his office to rectify this include limiting and reviewing the number of permits issued to fish in the Java Sea.

He said a review of these permits, which has been conducted since May, found that some 200 foreign ships were working with inappropriate or forged permits. He did not reveal the total number of valid permits.

Sarwono also strongly cautioned local fishermen against falling victim to fraud by offers of "cooperation to develop" fishery potential.

According to Sarwono, fish consumption in Indonesia has increased this year to about 22 kilograms per capita from last year's 19 kilograms per capita.

Fishery exports during the first nine months of 2000 generated a total income of $1.2 billion. The figure for the year is expected to reach $3 billion, a significant increase from $1.9 billion in 1999.

Sarwono also noted that the danger of marine overexploitation was not only in the fishery sector but in other activities such as underwater excavation.

He reminded all treasure hunters that about half of the money earned from the sale of bounties salvaged from Indonesian waters must be given to the state.

Antara reported that a foreigner named Michael Hatcher recently salvaged valuables from a ship that sank off the Sumatra coast a few hundred years ago, and was now planning to sell the wares in Germany next month. (har/lup)