Asia - Pacific

Indonesia denies navy shot Chinese fishermen

Minister denies Beijing’s claim that fisherman was injured, insists navy was right to fire warning shots at foreign vessels

Ekip   | 20.06.2016
Indonesia denies navy shot Chinese fishermen

Jakarta Raya

By Ainur Rohmah

TUBAN, Indonesia

Indonesia has denied claims that a Chinese fisherman was injured when its navy fired warning shots at foreign vessels accused of illegally fishing in the Natuna Sea.

Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi told lawmakers Monday, “the charge is that the [Chinese] boat crew were injured, but I have been communicating with our army commander and naval chief, and no boat crew were injured."

The comments came in response to the Chinese foreign ministry’s claims that Indonesian warships shot at and detained Chinese fishermen Friday in the disputed South China Sea.

Beijing had "strongly protested" the "harassment", which was reported to have left one crewmember injured and seven crew detained in what state media called “a traditional Chinese fishing ground".

Marsudi, however, said Friday’s incident began with Indonesian navy ships on patrol spotting 10-12 foreign fishing vessels in what she called the country’s exclusive economic zone off the Natuna Islands, off the northwest coast of Borneo.

"Some of the ships were seen throwing nets and [engaging in] suspected ‘illegal, unreported and unregulated’ fishing," quoted her saying at the parliamentary complex Monday.

She said that when the foreign vessels reportedly dispersed to escape, four Indonesia warships pursued them, ordering that they stop and turn off their engines.

"The demand was ignored and the foreign vessels increased their speed. A few hours later, warning shots were fired according to procedure," Marsudi insisted.

She added that one of the ships was captured, with its “seven crewmembers in good condition and no one was hurt."

Susi Pudjiastuti, minister of maritime affairs and fisheries, also backed the navy’s handling of the situation, expressing support and appreciation for its actions.

"The navy is correct to maintain the sovereignty of our oceans and its resources. The shooting would have been appropriate procedure,” she posted on her Twitter account Monday.

Navy spokesman Adm. Edi Sucipto said the captured China ship was being held at Ranai Navy Base in Natuna for further legal processing, and underlined that patrols would continue to maintain security within Indonesia’s jurisdiction.

"Whatever the flag, when they [vessels] commit violations in Indonesian jurisdiction, we will not be afraid to act decisively," quoted him as saying.

China claims almost all the resource-rich sea, and has overlapping claims with the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Taiwan and Brunei.

While the Natuna Islands are recognized as Indonesian territory, the country’s exclusive economic zone in the Nantuna Sea overlaps slightly with southernmost parts of the South China Sea.

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