CONTROVERSIAL TOPICS

CONTROVERSIAL TOPICS

Monday, December 22, 2014

Illegal fishing activities are blown up by the Indonesian navy in Ambon bay

 

 

 

 

The Philippines’ National Police Special Boat Unit seized this boat, which they say was manned by Chinese poachers that were catching endangered turtles in Filipino territorial waters, Palawan, Philippines, Sept. 3, 2014. (Jason Strother/VOA)

The Philippines’ National Police Special Boat Unit seized this boat, which they say was manned by Chinese poachers that were catching endangered turtles in Filipino territorial waters, Palawan, Philippines,

Extreme prejudice: A pair of Papa New Guinea-registered ships are destroyed by the Indonesian Navy after they were caught poaching fish in the nation's waters. Indonesia is cracking down hard on illegal fishing and has destroyed a number of ships so far

 

A Philippine court on Monday found nine Chinese fishermen guilty of poaching and environmental crimes for fishing in disputed waters

 

The nine, arrested in May, were fined $100,000 each for poaching with an additional 120,000 pesos ($2,730) fine for catching an endangered species, prosecutor Allen Ross Rodriguez said in the town of Puerto Princesa on Palawan island.

Filipino police said they found hundreds of sea turtles -- a protected species -- on board the fishermen's 15-tonne vessel when they arrested the group at Half Moon Shoal.

Philippine maritime police unload some of the sea turtles from a Chinese-flagged vessel seized by officials off the disputed Half Moon Shoal, west of Palawan...

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Philippine maritime police unload some of the sea turtles from a Chinese-flagged vessel seized by officials off the disputed Half Moon Shoal, west of Palawan, on May 11, 2014

The shoal is 111 kilometres (60 nautical miles) west of Palawan, the most westerly island in the Philippines. It is located on the eastern edge of the Spratlys island chain.

China claims nearly all of the South China Sea, including Half Moon Shoal and other areas near Palawan that are also claimed by the Philippines.

Philippine Foreign Affairs Spokesman Charles Jose said the court's decision should not further complicate ties with China.

"This is a purely law enforcement matter," Jose told AFP.

A spokeswoman for the Chinese Embassy in Manila could not be reached for comment.

China previously demanded that the Philippines release the fishermen immediately, saying it has "undisputable sovereignty" over the shoal.

It also refused to cooperate in the legal proceedings and failed to provide a defence lawyer or translator for the nine fishermen -- a move which prosecutors said delayed the proceedings.

The Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs provided a translator for Monday's proceedings.

The arrest of the fishermen further worsened relations already soured by the two countries' territorial dispute.

China's claim covers vast fishing areas and shipping lanes which potentially hold valuable mineral resources. It also conflicts with the claims of Brunei, Malaysia, Taiwan and Vietnam.

The Philippines in March filed a formal plea to the United Nations challenging China's claims but Beijing has rejected UN arbitration.

Originally, 11 Chinese were found on the boat but two were found to be minors and were repatriated without charge.

The court also ordered the confiscation of the fishermen's gear and their vessel, which it turned over to the Palawan government.

Chinese and Vietnamese fishermen separately arrested for illegal fishing stand inside a prison vehicle as they arrive for trial at a court in Puerto Princesa...

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Chinese and Vietnamese fishermen separately arrested for illegal fishing stand inside a prison vehicle as they arrive for trial at a court in Puerto Princesa City, Palawan island, southwest of Manila on June 4, 2014 ©Ted Aljibe (AFP/File)

 

The Marshall Islands is experiencing its worst-ever coral bleaching as global warming threatens reefs across the entire northern Pacific, scientists said Monday.

Marine researchers said an El Nino weather pattern had been developing in recent months, raising ocean temperatures and stressing delicate coral reefs.

"The worst coral bleaching event ever recorded for the Marshall Islands has been occurring since mid-September," Karl Fellenius, a Majuro-based marine scientist with the University of Hawaii told AFP.

An undated handout photo received from the Australian Institute of Marine Science on October 2, 2012 shows bleaching on a coral reef in Australia's Great Bar...

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An undated handout photo received from the Australian Institute of Marine Science on October 2, 2012 shows bleaching on a coral reef in Australia's Great Barrier Reef ©Ray Berkelmans (Australian Institute of Marine Science/AFP/File)

C. Mark Eakin, manager of the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Coral Reef Watch programme, said recent observations showed the problem was widespread across the vast waters of the northern Pacific.

"Major bleaching was seen in Guam and the Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas Islands, the northwestern Hawaiian Islands (NWHI), the Marshall Islands, and Kiribati," he said.

"Thermal stress levels set new record highs in CNMI and the NWHI and we saw the first widespread bleaching event in the main Hawaiian Islands."

Fellenius said coral bleaching was a naturally occurring phenomenon but not on the scale currently being seen.

"While bleaching can occur on very hot days in pools of water with little circulation (such as) very low tides on reef flats, it has become a global problem due to greenhouse gas emissions causing elevated temperatures under climate change."

He said sea surface temperatures had been on average half to a full degree Celsius higher than normal for months, adding: "This does not seem like a lot but it makes a big difference to corals."

Fellenius said the last major bleaching event was in 1997, when an exceptionally strong El Nino system affected about a quarter of the world's coral reefs.

He said indications were that the latest episode had affected up to 75 percent of smaller corals and 25 percent of the larger varieties at some sites in the Marshalls.

He said the bleached coral was becoming covered with algae, hindering its chances of recovery.

The World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) raised the alarm about rising sea temperatures this month on the sidelines of UN climate talks in Lima, saying 2014 was set to be the hottest year on record, consistent with man-made climate change.

"What is particularly unusual and alarming this year are the high temperatures of vast areas of the ocean surface," WMO chief Michel Jarraud said.

The Asian Development Bank warned last month that widespread coral bleaching would have a major impact on Pacific island nations, many of which are heavily reliant on tourism.

 

Environmental activist group Sea Shepherd said on Thursday it confronted a ship known for poaching Patagonian toothfish and other rare species in the Antarctic, part of its efforts to target illegal fishing in the Southern Ocean.

Though the Nigerian-flagged boat, the Thunder, managed to speed away, Sea Shepherd said it remained in pursuit, threatening "to directly intervene in order to obstruct their continued illegal activities" if they did not report to Australian authorities.

Sea Shepherd did not elaborate on what it meant by intervening, but during a decade of harassment that successfully saw off Japanese whalers the group used all manner of obstructions, including destroying fishing nets and even boarding boats.

Militant environmentalist group Sea Shepherd ship 'Bob Barker' is seen moored in Hobart on December 13, 2011

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Militant environmentalist group Sea Shepherd ship 'Bob Barker' is seen moored in Hobart on December 13, 2011 ©William West (AFP/File)

Its lead ship, the Bob Barker, left Australia on December 3 and the group intercepted the Thunder in a fishing area regulated by the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR), a multi-national body.

Bob Barker skipper Peter Hammarstedt said he had notified the Thunder captain and his crew "that they have been placed under citizen's arrest".

"They must cease their illegal fishing activities immediately and report to the Australian authorities," he added.

"Should they ignore this order, I have notified the Thunder that Sea Shepherd has no choice but to directly intervene in order to obstruct their continued illegal activities."

The Thunder, on a list of boats deemed to have engaged in illegal, unreported or unregulated fishing activities by CCAMLR, was last seen steaming off to the west with the Bob Barker in pursuit.

Hammarstedt said he had notified CCAMLR authorities, the Australian Federal Police and Australian Fisheries Management Authority.

Toothfish live in Antarctic waters at depths of 300 to 2,500 metres (1,000 to 8,200 feet) and are long-lived species, which means they are vulnerable to over-fishing due to their slowness to mature.

Sea Shepherd said increased surveillance and patrolling of waters by authorities in Australia and New Zealand had improved the toothfish situation in some areas.

But illegal fishing by poachers was continuing in what the group calls the "shadowlands" of the Southern Ocean, which are extremely remote and outside national jurisdictions.

At least six illegal vessels are known to operate in the area close to Antarctica, the group said.

Toothfish are sold as Chilean sea bass which is popular in high-end restaurants. It sells primarily in the United States, Europe and Japan, though there is also a growing market in China.

One in Three Fish Imported Into U.S. May Be Illegal

A new study says up to $2 billion worth of wild-caught seafood imports comes from pirate fishing around the world.

A photo of a fishmonger peeling the spine from a tuna.

A worker peels the spine from a tuna at New York's Fulton Fish Market—the world's largest after the Tsukiji Market in Tokyo, Japan—Do you know if the fish on your plate is legal? A new study estimates that 20 to 32 percent of wild-caught seafood imported into the U.S. comes from illegal or "pirate" fishing. That's a problem, scientists say, because it erodes the ability of governments to limit overfishing and the ability of consumers to know where their food comes from.

The estimated illegal catch is valued at $1.3 billion to $2.1 billion annually and represents between 15 and 26 percent of the total value of wild-caught seafood imported into the U.S., report scientists in a new study in the journal Marine Policy.

Study co-author Tony Pitcher says those results surprised his team. "We didn't think it would be as big as that. To think that one in three fish you eat in the U.S. could be illegal, that's a bit scary," says Pitcher, who is a professor at the fisheries center of the University of British Columbia in Vancouver.

To get those numbers, Pitcher and three other scientists analyzed data on seafood imported into the U.S. in 2011. They combed through government and academic reports, conducted fieldwork, and interviewed stakeholders.

The scientists report that tuna from Thailand had the highest volume of illegal products, 32,000 to 50,000 metric tons, representing 25 to 40 percent of tuna imports from that country. That was followed by pollack from China, salmon from China, and tuna from the Philippines, Vietnam, and Indonesia. Other high volumes were seen with octopus from India, snappers from Indonesia, crabs from Indonesia, and shrimp from Mexico, Indonesia, and Ecuador.

Imports from Canada all had levels of illegal catches below 10 percent. So did imports of clams from Vietnam and toothfish from Chile.

 

Chinese fishing boats regularly travel to the Spratlys – an archipelago claimed in whole or in part by China, Vietnam, the Philippines, Taiwan, Malaysia and Brunei – but the fleet dispatched in 2013 matches China’s biggest ever infiltration of the Spratlys.

China’s claim is the largest, covering most of the sea’s 648,000 square miles (1.7 million square km), a position that has been emphatically dismissed as illegitimate by international scholars. The area is thought to hold vast untapped reserves of oil and natural gas that could potentially place claimant nations alongside the likes of Saudi Arabia, Russia and Qatar.

Vietnam and the Philippines have repeatedly slammed China for its increasing belligerence in staking out its claims in the East Sea over the past several years. Manila is seeking a United Nations ruling on the validity of Chinese claims to the resource-rich sea. An unfavorable verdict for China would set the stage for a test of Beijing’s willingness to yield over territorial disputes.

China map

Experts say by sending one of its largest recorded fishing fleets to the Spratlys, China expects its actions to go unopposed. “The message China is sending is that this is my water and I am determined to assert my rights over it,” said Alexander Vuving, a security analyst at the Asia-Pacific Center for Security Studies in Hawaii.

China’s approach to its territorial claims in the East Sea is reflective its military doctrine, which includes “legal warfare”, experts say. “China bases its action on domestic legislation and its own unilateral interpretation of international law,” said Carl Thayer, a maritime analyst with the University of New South Wales in Australia.

Fish stocks in danger

Experts say upgrading its civil administration over economic activity in the East Sea is China’s way of trying to boost the legitimacy of its territorial claims. Although over 500 Chinese boats have licenses to operate in the Spratlys, the current total active in the area is well below that and has been substantially reduced since the 1990s, experts say.

Instead, China has resorted to industrial-scale trawling in the East Sea and last year deployed its largest commercial ship (32,000 tons), capable of processing over 2,000 tons of seafood a day for nine continuous months. “Such a step-up in capability will inevitably deplete fish stocks further, affecting Southeast Asian littoral states that rely heavily on the same fisheries,” said Euan Graham, a maritime expert with the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies in Singapore.

Experts say with monsoon season now over, fishing boats will go out to sea in larger numbers, and this usually leads to “incidents” involving trawlers – mostly from Vietnam and the Philippines – and Chinese patrol boats. “It is likely that China will [continue] confronting Vietnamese fishermen [found] operating in waters around the Paracels and Filipino fishermen operating near Scarborough Shoal,” Thayer said.

Experts are expecting China to impose its unilateral seasonal ban on fishing in the waters around the Paracels.

 

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Two foreign fishing boats suspected of conducting illegal fishing activities are blown up by the Indonesian navy in Ambon bay, Indonesia,

The destruction of the Papua New Guinea-flagged vessels follows a government ruling to sink almost all foreign ships which carry out illegal fishing activities in the waters of Indonesia.

'The ships have gone through legal procedures at the court in Ambon and their owners were found guilty of stealing fish from Indonesian waters. We must sink these ships so that other foreign ships will think twice before fishing illegally in our territory,' said navy spokesman Commodore Manahan Simorangkir.

Extreme prejudice: A pair of Papa New Guinea-registered ships are destroyed by the Indonesian Navy after they were caught poaching fish in the nation's waters. Indonesia is cracking down hard on illegal fishing and has destroyed a number of ships so far

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Extreme prejudice: A pair of Papa New Guinea-registered ships are destroyed by the Indonesian Navy after they were caught poaching fish in the nation's waters. Indonesia is cracking down hard on illegal fishing and has destroyed a number of ships so far

One of the ships burns. The two vessels carried 63 tonnes of fish and shrimp. 62 crewmen, mostly Thai, were arrested and several were turned over to immigration. They were caught on December 7 near the sea border of Indonesia and Papua New Guinea

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One of the ships burns. The two vessels carried 63 tonnes of fish and shrimp. 62 crewmen, mostly Thai, were arrested and several were turned over to immigration. They were caught on December 7 near the sea border of Indonesia and Papua New Guinea

The ships, the Century IV and Century VII, were caught on December 7 near the sea border of Indonesia and Papua New Guinea, reports the Jakarta Post.

'The ships were flying the Papua New Guinean flag but the crew were all Thai,' Navy Maj. Eko Budimansyah, spokesman for Lantamal IX Naval Base in Ambon, said.

The two vessels carried 63 tonnes of fish and shrimp. 62 crewmen were arrested and several were turned over to immigration. The ships were emptied of fuel before being destroyed to prevent pollution.

The vessels will be the fourth and fifth ships sunk by Indonesia in the three months since President Joko 'Jokowi' Widodo took office.

Indonesia loses about £15.3bn annually from illegal fishing and there are currently an estimated 5,400 illegal ships operating in the nation's waters

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Indonesia loses about £15.3bn annually from illegal fishing and there are currently an estimated 5,400 illegal ships operating in the nation's waters

Six more foreign ships are currently facing destruction, pending legal proceedings.

The number of cases of illegal fishing has declined since the hardline stance was taken. Some opponents say the destruction of the boats could cause diplomatic tension with other nations.

Officials with Taiwan's Fisheries Agency asked that Jakarta observe international protocol that allows its authorities to seize poaching vessels and arrest their crews, but forbids them from opening fire.

Indonesia loses about £15.3bn annually from illegal fishing and there are currently an estimated 5,400 illegal ships operating in the nation's waters.

 

(Reuters) – A senior Chinese leader will visit Vietnam this month, China‘s state media said on Monday, amid tension between the neighbors over competing claims in the South China Sea.

Yu Zhengsheng, who heads a largely ceremonial advisory body to China’s parliament but is ranked fourth in the Communist Party leadership, will be going at the invitation of Vietnam’s Communist Party, the official Xinhua news agency said.

It provided no other details.

Anti-Chinese violence flared in Vietnam in May after a $1 billion deepwater rig owned by China’s state-run CNOOC oil company was parked 240 km (150 miles) off the coast of Vietnam in the South China Sea.

Since then, though, China has sought to make amends with Vietnam, including sending senior officials to Hanoi.

However, the two countries clashed again this month after Vietnam submitted its position to an international arbitration tribunal, initiated by the Philippines, over the festering dispute that involves several countries.

Communist parties rule both countries and their trade has swelled to $50 billion annually, but Vietnam has long been suspicious of its giant neighbor, especially over China’s claims to almost the entire South China Sea.

China claims about 90 percent of the South China Sea, displaying its reach on official maps with a so-called nine-dash line that stretches deep into the maritime heart of Southeast Asia.

Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan also have claims to parts of the potentially energy-rich waters that are crossed by key global shipping lanes.

(Reporting by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Robert Birsel)

Related:

Vietnamese Fishermen Report Attacks By Chinese Including Ramming and Water Cannons (November 29, 2014)

World View: Philippines and Vietnam Launch Military and Legal Buildup to Confront China

China building large military base to contest Japan’s East China Sea claims

Kanwa Defense Review: China Has Already Tested Its South China Sea ADIZ

For China, “Might Makes Right” — Global Times Makes a Mockery of The Philippines, Others, in The South China Sea

The Philippines To Investigate Reports China’s Is Building A Vast Surveillance Network

China’s challenge in the South China Sea (Includes links to two weeks prior articles on this subject and related)

China raised issue of U.S. spy flights during military talks: Pentagon (November 14, 2014)

U.S. general says China, U.S. working to avoid “risky” air encounters

Pacific Air Force Chief Says Wary of Risky Flying by China Jets

The Philippines To Investigate Reports China’s Is Building A Vast Surveillance Network

Vietnam joins Philippines in case vs China

China, Vietnam clash again over South China Sea claims

South China Sea: China rejects Vietnam claims in arbitration submission

China’s challenge in the South China Sea (Includes links to two weeks prior articles on this subject and related)

The Philippines Is Taking China To Court Over The South China Sea

Collision: An example of what Vietnam and the Philippines call  China’s “lawlessness” at sea: A Chinese ship rams and collides with a Vietnamese vessel in contested waters of the South China Sea in May 2014. Photo: AFP photograb

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China claims to own all the South China Sea inside the “nine dash line” as seen here.

China claims ownership of about 90% of the South China Sea. Most of China’s neighbors believe otherwise.

The chart below shows the area declared by China on 1 January 2014 as “an area under China’s jurisdiction.” China says “foreign fishing vessels” can only enter and work in this area with prior approval from China. Vietnam, the Philippines and others have said they will not comply with China’s law. Experts say, this could be the geographic area that China could declare an air defense identification zone (ADIZ).

Tags:ADIZ, anti-Chinese, arbitration, chairman of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, China, Chinese Communist Party, CNOOC oil company, CPPCC, energy, fish, fishermen,gas, nine-dash line, oil, Philippines, South China Sea, Vietnam, Vietnamese fishermen, Yu Zhengsheng
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Indonesia: Playing With Fire in the South China Sea

December 20, 2014

Indonesia’s new president could jeopardize bilateral relations and ASEAN unity with his maritime “shock therapy.”

By Carl Thayer

On December 5 newly installed President Joko Widodo ordered Indonesian authorities to set fire to and sink three Vietnamese boats caught fishing illegally in waters near the Anambas Islands. This incident was covered by the media and given widespread publicity.

Indonesian President Joko Widodo gestures to the crowd during a street parade following his inauguration in Jakarta, Indonesia, 20 October 2014

Mr Widodo flashed his trademark peace sign to thousands during a street parade following his inauguration last October

The following day Indonesia officially announced its new policy of “shock therapy” for illegal poachers. President Widodo told Antara News Agency, “We sunk three of them on Friday to teach them a lesson, so that they will give up poaching in Indonesian waters.” According to Tedjo Edhy Purdijatno, Coordinating Minister for Political, Legal and Security Affairs, Indonesia intended to demonstrate “stern government action” and would sink five Thai fishing boats seized near West Kalimantan after President Widodo announced his get-tough policy.

President Widodo offered a justification for his actions in a series of interviews with the foreign press. Widodo told The Wall Street Journal, “Every day there [are] around 5,400 [foreign] boats in our ocean and our sea. And 90% of them are illegal. So to give shock therapy to them, of course, we [are] sinking them.” Government authorities estimated that Indonesia looses more than $20 billion annually due to illegal fishing.

Picture of Natuna fishermen

Fishermen near Natuna

President Widodo also noted that Vietnam was not being singled out. He claimed that fishing boats sailing under the flag of any other nation engaged in illegal fishing would be treated on the same basis. Under legislation adopted in 2009, relevant Indonesian authorities may impound or sink fishing vessels operating in Indonesian water without proper permits.

In an interview with the Indonesian language service of the Voice of America, President Widodo was quoted as stating, “I instructed the ministry, the military commander, that this [illegal fishing] couldn’t continue. I instructed them three or four weeks ago to sink ships involved in illegal fishing. Sink them! No more! But thank Allah, last Friday, we started sinking several ships.”

President Widodo also told Agence France Presse, “I asked our foreign minister to explain that this is a purely criminal issue and has nothing to do with neighborly relations.”

Susi Pudjiastuti, Minister for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, revealed that a week prior to the burning of the Vietnamese boats she had alerted the ambassadors from Malaysia, the Philippines, and Thailand, but apparently not Vietnam, that Indonesia was moving to impose sanctions and tougher regulations for illegal fishing in its waters.

Five countries are the major source of illegal fishing in Indonesian waters: China, Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam.  Within five days of President Widodo’s announcement of his “shock therapy” policy Indonesia seized 155 foreign fishing vessels.

Minister Susi Pudjiastuti reported that Indonesia’s shock therapy resulted in a dramatic drop in foreign boats operating around Natuna Island. She also claimed that no harm was done to Indonesia’s relations with neighboring countries. Still, President Widodo’s policy of shock therapy raises questions about Indonesia’s treatment of its long-time political and diplomatic ally, Vietnam.

On June 27, 2013 Indonesia and Vietnam publicly announced that they had raised their bilateral relations to a strategic partnership. Points 10 and 11 of the Joint Statement announcing the strategic partnership stated:

10. The two leaders observed the progress in the fisheries and aquaculture cooperation and emphasized the need for both countries to further implement the MoU on Marine and Fisheries Cooperation (2010) to further tap the high potentials of cooperation in this area and to address illegal, unregulated and unreported (IUU) fishing, including on the arrangement for returning fishermen caught or arrested due to (IUU) fishing.

11. The two leaders directed the technical team to expedite their discussion for the early conclusion on delimitation of the exclusive economic zone and, without prejudice to the final settlement of maritime boundary delimitation, encouraged both sides to find a temporary solution to facilitate cooperation in marine and fisheries affairs.

A separate explanatory note issued by Vietnam’s Foreign Ministry stated that the two sides “agreed… to closely coordinate in dealing with issues relating to fishermen and fishing boats that encroach each side’s territorial waters on the basis of humanity and friendship.”

On December 9, Pham Thu Hang, spokesperson for Vietnam’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, stated that Vietnam had contacted Indonesia about the sinking of Vietnamese-flagged boats and appealed to Indonesia to deal with the fishermen “in accordance with international laws, based on humane spirit and on the relations between Indonesia and other countries.”

In the past year an unprecedented number of Chinese fishing boats have been operating in sensitive waters around Natuna Island. This year foreign analysts reported that Chinese fishing boats have even entered Indonesia’s territorial waters and in some cases have sailed up estuaries on small islands. This has led some observers to speculate that Widodo’s policy of shock therapy was a signal to China to rein in such activity.

On December 10, Hong Lei, the official spokesperson for China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued a written statement that noted officials from both countries were working to confirm the details of Indonesia’s seizure of Chinese fishing boats. The statement also called on Indonesian authorities “to ensure the safety and legal rights of Chinese crews and address this issue properly.” In the two weeks since President Widodo announced his policy no government spokesperson has ventured to comment on the fate of 22 Chinese vessels seized in the Arafura Sea for illegal fishing.

Widodo’s new shock therapy policy also raises questions about the extent to which domestic populism is driving his policy. According to Farish Noor, writing in Malaysia’s New Straits Times, “what is troubling about the incident (setting fire to and sinking three Vietnamese fishing boats)… is that it was a demonstration of power in terms that seem harsh, over-the-top and contrary to the ASEAN spirit of compromise and dialogue.”

Farish Noor singled out two issues. First, he argued that the publicity given to the sinking of the Vietnamese boats “gives the impression that Indonesia is the only victim, when we know this is not true.” He pointed out that Indonesian fishermen were guilty of fishing illegally in the waters of neighboring countries as well.

Secondly, Farish Noor noted, “in the past, such boats were captured, the crews arrested and escorted back to their home waters. Illegal fishing is a problem that the whole of ASEAN faces, and not Indonesia alone.” Noor then asked rhetorically how would Indonesians feel if other countries retaliated and burned Indonesian fishing boats?

Farish Noor concluded:

“[T]he moves by Indonesia have gone against the spirit of the association [ASEAN], and can lead to the view that these are populist moves calculated to satisfy the electorate. But if every country in ASEAN followed the same path – pandering to populism, burning the ships of neighbor, etc – then where will ASEAN head to?”

Indonesian legal expert Frans Hendra Winarta concurred. He accused President Widodo of being careless by burning and sinking foreign fishing boats because this risked raising political tensions with fellow members of ASEAN on the eve of the creation of an ASEAN Economic Community.

Natuna Besar Island (or locally known as ‘Ranai’)

Winarta described the sinking of the Vietnamese boasts as a show of force and a political maneuver to win domestic support. He argued, “Sinking poaching boats should be the last resort and not a primary one. I am concerned with the way our legal (standing) is heading: showing force but failing to look far ahead.”

President Widodo shows no sign of rethinking his get-tough policy. On December 15 he journeyed to Kotabaru in South Kalimantan to mark Nusantara Day, when Indonesia declared itself an archipelagic state on December 13, 1957. In a speech to mark this occasion Widodo noted that many leaders from neighboring countries called him prior to the public burning of the Vietnamese fishing boats. Widodo revealed “(They asked) ‘Pak Jokowi, why use dynamite to sink ships?’ I answered that this was only the first warning. There would be another message and the second warning… Just wait.”

Vietnamese fishing boat

An editorial in Singapore’s The Straits Times called for President Widodo to enlist the services of “an eloquent point man to put the scope of Indonesia’s nationalism in the proper perspective.” The editorial concluded:

“It would be in Jakarta’s interests to ensure diplomatic relations with countries in the region are safeguarded by not neglecting bilateral approaches to poaching issues and the detention of foreign boats, including those of Vietnam, Thailand, and China. Such efforts would also be in step with Jakarta’s avowed intention of continuing to be actively involved in ASEAN community-building process, with an eye on the formation of an ASEAN Economic Community.”

During Indonesia’s recent national elections and on inauguration day President Widodo has propounded the goal of reviving Indonesia’s past grandeur as a seafaring nation by making modern-day Indonesia a Global Maritime Axis. This vision appears to have emboldened Widodo to apply his shock therapy policy to resolve the issue of illegal poaching. This policy will not succeed because it is a regional problem and Indonesia lacks the resources to implement it effectively.

President Widodo’s reliance on populism to shore up his new government may play well at home but it has the potential to raise unnecessary friction in long-standing bilateral relations with neighboring states and undermine the process of ASEAN community-building. If Indonesia aspires to play a leading role in Southeast Asian affairs it must drop unilateral measures and exert leadership to craft a multilateral regional response.

http://thediplomat.com/2014/12/indonesia-playing-with-fire-in-the-south-china-sea/

Related:

The sleepy island Indonesia is guarding from China

South China Sea: Is China Working To Grab Indonesian Territory and Natural Gas?

Vietnamese Fishermen Report Attacks By Chinese Including Ramming and Water Cannons

Thailand navy seizes 5 Vietnamese trawlers with 30 crew members

Vietnam Boat Attacked by Chinese Surveillance Ship

The fishing boat of Quang Ngai local Le Khoi returned home on August 16, 2014 after Chinese pirates reportedly stole its equipment and catch. Photo: V.Minh/VnExpress

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The fishing boat of Quang Ngai local Le Khoi returned home on August 16, 2014 after Chinese pirates reportedly stole its equipment and catch. Photo: V.Minh/VnExpress

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This picture taken on June 2, 2014 shows the Vietnamese fishing boat "DNA 90152", which was reportedly sunk by a Chinese ship, at a shipyard in the central coastal city of Danang

A photo taken Monday, June 2, 2014, shows a Vietnamese fishing boat, which reportedly was sunk by a Chinese ship last week, being lifted out of the water at a shipyard in the central coastal city of Danang. Vietnamese TV has reported another ship was rammed on Sunday by a Chinese vessel in waters off the disputed Paracel Islands. AFP/Getty Images

Screen grab from a video of a Chinese ship ramming a Vietnamese ship in the South China Sea, May 2014.

Chủ tàu Trần Văn Quang và chiếc mỏ neo bị tàu lạ đâm lút vào mũi tàu. Ảnh: Đức Nguyễn.

Chủ tàu Trần Văn Quang và chiếc mỏ neo bị tàu lạ đâm lút vào mũi tàu. Ảnh: Đức Nguyễn.

Chinese ship attacks Vietnamese fishing boat — Từ Hoàng Sa trở về: Tàu cá Việt bị tàu Trung Quốc đâm tơi tả

Photo: Captain Pham Quang Thanh on the fishing boat that was fired at by a Chinese naval boat off Hoang Sa (Paracel) Islands of Vietnam on March 20, 2013

Tags:ASEAN, Carl Thayer, China, Chinese fishing boats, energy, exclusive economic zone, Farish Noor, fisheries, fishermen, fishing, fishing vessels,gas, illegal fishing, Indonesia, Indonesia’s seizure of Chinese fishing boats,Indonesian, international law, Joko Widodo, Minister Susi Pudjiastuti,multilateral regional response, Natuna, Natuna Island, natural resources,oil, Philippines, sinking of Vietnamese-flagged boats, South China Sea,Thailand, Vietnam, Vietnam's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Vietnamese boats,Vietnamese fishermen, Widodo
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Respect Philippine justice system, China told

November 29, 2014

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By Tarra Quismundo
Philippine Daily Inquirer

MANILA, Philippines—The Philippines on Friday called on China to respect the country’s judicial system as it asserted its sovereign right to enforce the country’s laws and penalize violators caught poaching within its waters, an offense that nine Chinese fishermen were found guilty of committing earlier this week.

“We call on China to respect the court decision,” said Assistant Secretary Charles Jose, spokesperson of the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA).

Male Leatherback Sea Turtle

A leatherback sea turtle. Marine turtles are protected under Vietnamese law but illegal trade in the animals continues. Chinese fishermen were found guilty of committing poaching of endangered sea turtles in Philippine waters. Photograph: Michael Patrick O’Neill /Alamy

“The nine fishermen have already undergone the legal processes and the penalties imposed on them were a decision made by our judiciary, which is a separate but equal branch of our government, so we should respect the court’s decision,” he told a press briefing yesterday.

Jose made the call when asked to comment on the Chinese Foreign Ministry’s statement on Wednesday demanding the unconditional release of its nine fishermen, who were found guilty of poaching and catching endangered sea turtles at the Hasa-Hasa (Half-Moon) Shoal in April.

China has not made such demand formal through diplomatic channels, Jose said.

On Monday, the Puerto Princesa Regional Trial Court ordered each of the fishermen to pay P4.4 million in fines for taking wildlife in the shoal off Palawan, located in the Spratlys in the disputed West Philippine Sea (South China Sea).

The Chinese nationals would only be allowed to leave the country upon settlement of the fines, Malacañang earlier said.

“On the part of the DFA, we have stated before that this is a purely law-enforcement matter and our maritime police were only applying our fisheries code in that part of our sea,” said Jose.

He reiterated the Philippines’ ownership of the shoal where the Chinese fishermen were apprehended, amid China’s assertions that the territory was under its “indisputable sovereignty.”

“The place where they were apprehended is part of our continental shelf, so the Philippines has the exclusive rights and sovereign rights and jurisdiction to explore the resources there and to implement our laws,” said the official.

He said the incident underscored the need for the clarification of the rightful exclusive economic zones (EEZ) between the Philippines and China, as the country’s arbitration case before the United Nations seeks to accomplish.

The pending arbitration bid aims to stop Chinese incursions into the country’s established EEZ. China has refused to take part in the proceedings, still urging its historical right to territories in the contested waters.

“This only highlights the importance of the arbitration case that we filed against China before the arbitral tribunal. Because once we are clear as to the extent of our EEZs, then incidents like this would be avoided wherein we’d be intruding into each others’ EEZ,” said Jose.

The Philippines’ National Police Special Boat Unit seized this boat, which they say was manned by Chinese poachers that were catching endangered turtles in Filipino territorial waters, Palawan, Philippines, Sept. 3, 2014. (Jason Strother/VOA)

The Philippines’ National Police Special Boat Unit seized this boat, which they say was manned by Chinese poachers that were catching endangered turtles in Filipino territorial waters, Palawan, Philippines, Sept. 3, 2014. (Jason Strother/VOA)

 

 

 

 

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