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Destructive Fishing Practices
in Indonesian Law
By Amelia Hapsari

When the filmmaker presented the video to local authorities, their message was quite clear. Both the police and the court were saying that they were aware of the problem, but they were not well equipped to handle most illegal fishing cases. Flawed legal frameworks contributed to the prevalence of corruption within law enforcement agents.

Dikdik Mohammad Sodik in his Phd dissertation in 2007 titled "Combating Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated Fishing in Indonesian Waters" argued that although Indonesia has regulations regarding illegal fishing, "Indonesia's institutional framework is characterized by overlapping institutions at the national and provincial levels, lack of coordination in fisheries- related functions, and conflicts in jurisdiction."

The flawed legal frameworks on destructive fishing practices had a profound impact in Balobaloang. The policeman that the filmmaker interviewed expressed the complexity of catching a dynamite or cyanide fishing boat. According to the police account, in order for him to arrest someone, the territory of control had to be under the correct regency territory; not the provincial or the national territory.

If illegal fishing operation was conducted outside the regency territory, but still inside the national ZEE territory, the navy was responsible for the arrest. The police also had to both witness the blast and secure two kinds of evidence in order to bring the case to court. With a vast ocean territory, the police felt that their facility, budget, and staff were not sufficient to secure their area from illegal fishing. The police felt that their move was limited by various legal frameworks and budget constraints.

The anti-terrorism law that was enacted in 2003 (UU No. 15 Tahun 2003) had potentials to eradicate blast fishing. The law prohibited possession and usage of explosives, including those regularly set off underwater to catch a large number of fish. However, several cases reported by Indonesian media have shown that the judge refused to apply this law on dynamite fishery.

After a bomb accidently exploded in the house of a dynamite fisher in Pasuruan, East Java, there has been public debate on whether dynamite fishery can be charged with the 2003 terrorism law. The accident caused three deaths and several injuries. As Kompas commentator Maruli Tobing argued in his article "Bom Ikan dan Terorisme" or "Dynamite Fishing and Terrorism" (Kompas, August 20th, 2007), storing dynamites for fishing and detonating them have proved to be dangerous for human beings. Tobing provided convincing examples that his activity has caused severe financial loss to Indonesian environment and the livelihood of traditional fishermen as well as human casualty. Tobing argued that the cost and the risk of dynamite fishery was higher than terrorism, not to mention other illegal fishing activities.

Unfortunately, Nadir, the owner of the deadly blasted explosives was not jailed for terrorism. The reason, as quoted by Antara News Agency was that terrorism had a clear goal to create fear on the society, while explosives for fishing did not serve that goal.

Other than these instances, there were other challenges in monitoring and vessel registration system that add to the complexity in regulating fishing practices Indonesia.  


Polri Sulit Terapkan UU Terorisme pada Ledakan Pasuruan
Antara News Agency 14 Agustus 2007

Bom Ikan dan Terorisme

By Maruli Tobing. Kompas, August 20th, 2007

Combatting Illegal, Unreported, and Unregulated Fishing in Indonesian Waters: The need for fisheries legislative reform
By Didik Mohammad Sidik. Dissertation. University of Wollongong.


Also in this section:
A Nation in Search of Democracy
Destructive Fishing Practices and Indonesian Law
Local Autonomy and the Dilemma
Global Trade and the Impact on Developing Countries
Problems in Indonesian Marine Security




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