Indonesia blew up 23 foreign fishing boats caught poaching in the country’s waters.
The action taken by the Southeast Asian nation on Tuesday came as worsening relations over the disputed South China Sea drive countries to take tougher action to defend their maritime sovereignty, the Wall Street Journal reported.
Maritime and Fisheries Minister Susi Pudjiastuti said her office used explosives to sink 10 Malaysian and 13 Vietnamese boats in seven ports from Tarakan in northern Kalimantan to Ranai on the Natuna Islands in the South China Sea, according to reports from news agencies.
She vowed to mete out the same punishment to any vessel found poaching, no matter its origin.
“If there is an illegal fishing boat from America, we will also sink it,” Pudjiastuti was quoted as saying.
The move came two weeks after Jakarta criticized Beijing for alleged poaching by a Chinese fishing boat, the Journal said.
Amid China’s aggressive efforts to press its claims to most of the South China Sea, many Southeast Asian countries are taking steps to beef up their navies and coast guards, the newspaper said.
On Monday, the Philippines kicked off annual military exercises with the United States, while a Japanese naval flotilla, including a submarine, arrived in Subic Bay for separate drills with the Philippine navy.
China, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam are among the world’s top 15 fish and seafood exporters, the Journal said, citing data from UN Food and Agriculture Organization.
The South China Sea supplies roughly a 10th of the total global catch, the report said.
– Contact us at [email protected]