Indonesian lawmakers at odds over destroying poaching vessels

Courtesy photo
Updated 13 January 2018
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Indonesian lawmakers at odds over destroying poaching vessels

JAKARTA: Indonesia’s fishing community has urged the government to stick to its policy of destroying confiscated fishing vessels used to plunder the country’s rich fishing grounds.
President Joko Widodo’s administration has clamped down on illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing by publicly blowing up and sinking vessels used by crew members who are found guilty of poaching fish in Indonesian waters.
The Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Ministry has destroyed more than 380 vessels from China, Vietnam, Malaysia, the Philippines and other countries since 2015, including the Nigerian-flagged Viking, which had been on Interpol’s wanted list for poaching protected species in Antarctic waters.
But the Cabinet is now divided on whether to continue the policy. Vice President Jusuf Kalla and Coordinating Maritime Affairs Minister Luhut Pandjaitan have urged Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Minister Susi Pudjiastuti, whose ministry is tasked with executing the policy, to put an end to it.
“The ship-sinking measure was necessary at the start as a shock therapy to let people know that we can be tough,” Pandjaitan said on Tuesday. “But we don’t need to do that anymore. We can’t have shock therapy forever.”
The policy has irked the vessels’ countries of origin, mainly China and those in Southeast Asia.
“The government has to remain consistent in enforcing the law,” Agusdin Pulungan, head of the Indonesian Agriculture and Fishing Societies, told Arab News on Friday.
“Fishing communities across the country have felt the positive impact of the policy and saw an increase in their catches.”
Pandjaitan said boats confiscated from crew members awaiting conviction could be given to fishermen who do not have vessels.
“Now that we have confiscated the vessels… why don’t we let our fishermen use them?” asked Pandjaitan.
Abdul Halim, executive director of the Jakarta-based Center of Maritime Studies for Humanities, said it is legally possible to turn confiscated vessels into state assets and auction them to fishing communities.
“The government has to ensure that whoever buys the vessels has never been implicated in crimes related to the fisheries industry,” he told Arab News.
Widodo on Wednesday said he supports the destruction of vessels used in poaching, and has instructed Pudjiastuti to focus on revitalizing the fisheries processing industry and exports.
The Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Ministry on Thursday said exports of fisheries products had increased from $3.78 billion in 2016 to $4.09 billion in 2017.
Pudjiastuti said the policy of sinking vessels used in poaching over the past three years was a mandate of the fisheries law.
“The president instructed me to carry out the law, and more than 90 percent of the ships sunk were implicated in poaching convictions, so they had to be destroyed since they were not merely evidence but they were also part of the crime,” she said.
Indonesia suffers up to $20 billion in losses annually from illegal fishing in its waters, according to World Bank data.


Pakistan prime minister calls for peace talks with India

Updated 24 October 2018
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Pakistan prime minister calls for peace talks with India

  • India has long accused Pakistan of backing militants in Kashmir, a Himalayan territory divided between the two countries
  • 500,000 Delhi soldiers are positioned in the portion of Kashmir India controls

RIYADH: Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan on Tuesday vowed to hold peace talks with arch-rival India following elections in the neighboring country, after a similar offer from the former cricketer was “rebuffed.”

Khan made the announcement during a speech at the Future Investment Initiative (FII) in Riyadh. The leader launched a charm offensive targeting potential investors as Pakistan seeks to secure funds amid a yawning balance of payments crisis.

“When I won the elections and came to power, the first thing I tried to do was extend a hand of peace to India,” Khan told the audience, saying the overture was later “rebuffed” by Delhi.

“Now what we are hoping is that we wait until the elections then again we will resume our peace talks with India,” he added, referring to nationwide polls scheduled to take place by mid-May.

In September India pulled the plug on a rare meeting between its foreign minister and its Pakistani counterpart on the sidelines of a UN summit — a move that was termed “arrogant” by Khan and unleashed a barrage of insults from both sides.

India has long accused Pakistan of backing militants in Kashmir, a Himalayan territory divided between the two countries but claimed in full by both since independence in 1947.

Delhi has stationed about 500,000 soldiers in the portion of Kashmir it controls, where separatist groups demand independence or a merger with Pakistan.

Khan also told the FII event that his country looks forward to a strong investment partnership with Saudi Arabia, including on energy projects.

Pakistan needs two oil refineries to meet demand, Khan said, and talks are underway with Saudi investors about the projects.

During the panel discussion Khan discussed investment, a corrupt-free Pakistan and “Naya Pakistan.” Naya Pakistan refers to a return to the principles of the country’s founding fathers: Truth, justice, meritocracy, the welfare state and, above all, the education of its people. He said it was particularly important to raise female literacy in Pakistan. 

Khan has been in power for 60 days but has inherited a massive debt. “We need to increase our exports because we have a shortage of foreign reserves,” he said.

Khan is looking for mix of loans from the International Monetary Fund IMF and “friendly governments” to address the shortfall. 

Key priorities were fighting corruption and creating jobs, Khan added, saying clamping down on money laundering was a major priority for the government. 

“Corruption is what makes a country poor,” he said. “It’s the difference between the developing world and an underdeveloped country. Corruption does two things; it destroys institution and diverts money from human development.”

With 100 million people below the age of 35, Khan said unemployment and housing were big pressures on the government but that Pakistan has embarked on an ambitious program to build five million homes in the next five years. He said the information technology sector could be an area where Pakistan could improve its exports and provide new jobs. 

“Pakistan is a country with potential. We have lost our way since the 60s but now Pakistan is ready and our biggest resource is the youth. And today is the best time to invest,” he said. 

Minerals, gold, copper reserves, zinc, gas, unexplored gas and tourism were areas that investors would be interested in, Khan said. 

“There is a vast amount of mineral wealth in Pakistan. We have some of the largest gold reserves in the world, as well as reserves of copper and zinc. Tourism is also a vital sector and has flourished in recent years.”

Khan said that Pakistan had now “controlled terrorism.”

“We need peace and stability and when Afghanistan’s situation settles, terrorism will end and the investments will grow to the central Asia region.” 

Khan said he admired China for tackling two problems that were the main issues facing Pakistan — poverty and corruption. 

In the past China had a large population that was on the brink of starvation but it had now brought 7 million people out of poverty and clamped down on corruption. Khan said that he was traveling to China next month for help in these two areas.