Australia to continue burning Indonesian boats

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Indonesian Fisheries Minister Freddy Numberi has asked the Australian government to stop burning Indonesian boats found fishing illegally in Australian waters. His Australian counterpart, Senator Ian Macdonald, has said that the practice will continue. "The law is that we are required to offer the boats back on payment of a bond somewhere between $4,000 and $10,000, and if the owners don't pay that in 28 days then the boat's forfeited to the Australian Government," he said. "We have no use for them and we destroy them and we'll continue to do that."

The boat owners, who often come from poor backgrounds, generally can't afford to pay and are then deported. While waiting for a decision one fisherman has died [1] . Under a 1974 agreement with Australia, traditional Indonesian fishermen are permitted to take fish within a 12 nautical mile radius of Ashmore Reef, Cartier Island, Scott Reef, Seringapatam Reef and Browse Island. Often the fishermen caught are traditional fishermen who navigate by the sun, stars and with the wind, so with no visible borders, they often mistakenly fish in illegal waters.

Some fishermen are professionally profiteering on catching sharks for their valuable fins while throwing away the rest of the sharks body. There is even confusion as to who could be defined as a "traditional fisherman" and who is just profiteering illegally. Fisherman who persist and get caught more than once can end up in detention.