The government has so far blown up and sank a total of 38 local and foreign ships in various locations across the country that were earlier caught for illegal fishing, an official said on Tuesday.
"Of the 38 ships sunk as of today, four belonged to Indonesian fishermen," Rangga Dwi Wahyu Putra of the Marine and Fishery Ministry's fishery and marine resource (PSDKP) directorate general told The Jakarta Post after witnessing the sinking of two local trawlers and a Malaysian ship in Belawan waters, North Sumatra.
Rangga added that among the 38 ships, 34 of them were from Vietnam, Malaysia and Thailand.
The 38 ships were among 73 foreign and 2,000 local ships that have been investigated by the ministry since January this year for allegedly fishing illegally in Indonesian waters.
The sinking of the three ships in Belawan waters on Tuesday was conducted by a joint team of officers led by Belawan Naval Base commander First Adm. Yudo Margono.
The two local trawlers were earlier confiscated for violating regulations on zoning and fishing gear, while the Malaysian ship was seized for illegal fishing.
A number of officials from the ministry, the North Sumatra Water Police and the Prosecutors' Office witnessed the sinking.
Rangga said that in total there were four local ships sunk on the same day, adding that another two were sunk in Pontianak, West Kalimantan.
He also said that the two trawlers blown up in Belawan were seized by the North Sumatra Water Police this year. He said the presence of the two trawlers in the region had caused restlessness among the local traditional fishermen.
In response to the people's restlessness, Rangga said, the government would take stern action against any trawlers found catching fish on the waters along the coastal line as the area was in the traditional fishermen's zone.
"The government has today proved its seriousness in taking stern action against trawlers and at the same time giving warning to trawler owners not to violate the zoning," Rangga said.
He said that operating trawlers on the waters of traditional fishermen was against government regulations that allow trawlers to operate only on waters located more than 10 nautical miles from the beach.
Separately, the PSDKP directorate general's violation handling director, Lapis Silalahi, said that the sinking of the three ships in Belawan had been conducted according to a permanent court ruling.
"The same sinking of ships was also conducted nationwide simultaneously in six locations including Belawan," Silalahi said after the sinking of the ships in Belawan on Tuesday.