By Novi Abdi
Balikpapan (ANTARA News) - The Indonesian navy (TNI AL) has sent four ships to patrol the northern waters of East Kalimantan.
KRI Kakap 811, KRI Pulau Rengat 711, KRI Birang 831, and KRI Suluh Pari 809 are ready to patrol and secure the Indonesian Archipelago Sea Lanes (ALKI) II, which includes the Makassar Strait, waters of Sulu, and those of Sulawesi that border Malaysia and the Philippines in the north.
"Right now, our primary focus is on protecting our fishermen and preventing foreign ones from poaching fish in our waters," the chief of the naval base in Balikpapan, East Kalimantan, Colonel Ariantyo Confrowibowo, said here on Saturday.
Foreign fishermen from various countries located north of Indonesia enter ALKI II or exploit the Indonesia Exclusive Economic Zone (ZEE).
The colonel explained that foreign fishing vessels stay outside Indonesian territorial waters during daylight hours or when they are being monitored. "But as soon as night falls, they enter our waters and start poaching fish. This is one of their methods of operation," he added.
Confrowibowo stated that the foreign fishing ships are usually large and use thousand watt lights to attract fish. This leaves Indonesian traditional fishermen, who do not have such facilities, with no fish to catch.
The foreign fishing vessels also use fishing equipment, including trawls, which are banned from use in Indonesian waters, the navy chief noted.
In view of that, he remarked that the TNI AL could understand why the new minister of fisheries and marine resources was furious over the situation and had threatened to burn and sink the ships if they were caught entering Indonesian territory.