The Riau Islands Prosecutor’s Office, along with the Batam High Court, on Wednesday scuttled five Vietnamese boats that were found guilty of being used for illegal fishing in Batam waters. However, unlike previous sinkings, the law enforcement bodies used weights to submerge them to avoid environmental damage.
The head of the Batam High Prosecutors’ Office, Dedie Tri Hariyadi, said all of the cases of illegal fishing involving the boats had been concluded at the Supreme Court level within two months to one year.
“We no longer sink boats with explosives, but by creating a hole in a boat’s hull and filling it with weights, so we don’t destroy the environment,” said Dedie.
In Indonesia, violations involving fishing boats are covered under Law No. 45/2009 on fisheries. Article 69 even stipulates that a boat may be sunk or destroyed by government patrol vessels on the spot without due process involving courts.
The law had allowed authorities to sink a number of vessels using explosives, a method that had been criticized for violating international law and damaging the marine ecosystem.
Dedie said previously that when the authorities sank boats using explosives they caused damage to coral reefs with fuel spills and with the boatwreck itself.
“I hope that the boats can become new habitat for fish and other marine life around Momoi Island,” said Dedie.
With the new method, it took an hour for each boat to disappear beneath the waves on Wednesday.