Dozens Arrested in Malacca Strait Over Illegal Fishing

Banda Aceh. Indonesian marine police on Thursday arrested dozens of fishermen from Thailand and Myanmar in waters off of East Aceh for alleged illegal fishing.

Lhokseumawe marine headquarters commander Lt. Col. Sumartono said that the Indonesian Military (TNI) had launched an operation in the Strait of Malacca after being tipped off by local fisherman that trawlers were entering the country’s waters illegally. Many complaints had been lodged, indicating that the practice had grown rampant in the strait, hurting local catches.

A team of 15 officers officers led by Sumartono patrolled the area, discovering five illegal trawlers.

“They tried to fool us by raising Indonesian flags — their boats’ names were also in Indonesian,” Sumartono told the Jakarta Globe.

The officers questioned the crews regardless and found that none of the fishermen could speak Indonesian, and documents found onboard revealed that they were from Thailand and Myanmar.

“When we stopped them they did not resist arrest or try to flee the scene because our boats are faster,” Sumartono said.

He said that the officers arrested the boats’ captains, while the crews were allowed to stay on their boats under tight supervision.

The boats, along with 11 Thai nationals and 45 Burmese nationals, were brought to Krueng Geukeuh in North Aceh for further questioning. The military also seized the fish the crews had reeled in.

“Currently, we are still questioning the ship captains,” Sumartono said.

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