Indonesia Tackles Illegal Fishing by Blowing up Boats

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The people of Indonesia are tired of fishermen from around the world sneaking into their protected waters to fish illegally, and they’re taking a stand. Their new strategy is simple: Confiscate and destroy all prohibited fishing vessels.

So far, Indonesian Fisheries Minister Susi Pudjiastuti has seized and blown up over 170 vessels from several nations that have been discovered operating illegally in her nation’s waters.

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Ms. Pudjiastuti stated, “It’s nothing against any country. It’s against criminality.”

This strategy may seem a bit extreme, but it serves to send an important message.

Illegal fishing is not only costing the nation billions of dollars annually, it’s destroying their once pristine marine ecosystems and long-standing fishing tradition.

indonesia reefImage of Indonesia’s pristine reefs by Ilse Reijs and Jan-Noud Hutten

Indonesia is home to 60% of the world’s reef-building corals and spawning grounds for a host of fish species. The nation’s reefs are among the most biologically rich in the world.

The economy depends on the health of its marine and coastal resources. Other nations have out-fished and destroyed their own fishing grounds, and now enter other nation’s waters illegally to take what’s left. Maybe they’ll reconsider.

A recent study has shown that these extreme measures may actually be working.

The study, published in in Nature Ecology & Evolution, found total commercial fishing shrunk by 25 percent following Indonesia’s explosive enforcement efforts against foreign boats. “Instead of putting the pressure on local legal fishers to recover fisheries, the Indonesian government put their attention on foreign illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing, which is a huge problem in Indonesia,” says postdoctoral researcher Reniel Cabral at the University of California, Santa Barbara, lead author of the new study. Applying this strategy in other countries could generate similar long-lasting results in many other regions of the world, the researchers concluded.

What do you think of this unique strategy?

Indonesia recently sunk some illegal fishing ships as well. Check that out in the video below: