By Sam Webb
Two foreign fishing boats suspected of conducting illegal fishing activities are blown up by the Indonesian navy in Ambon bay, Indonesia, 21 December 2014.
The destruction of the Papua New Guinea-flagged vessels follows a government ruling to sink almost all foreign ships which carry out illegal fishing activities in the waters of Indonesia.
'The ships have gone through legal procedures at the court in Ambon and their owners were found guilty of stealing fish from Indonesian waters. We must sink these ships so that other foreign ships will think twice before fishing illegally in our territory,' said navy spokesman Commodore Manahan Simorangkir.
The ships, the Century IV and Century VII, were caught on December 7 near the sea border of Indonesia and Papua New Guinea, reports the Jakarta Post.
'The ships were flying the Papua New Guinean flag but the crew were all Thai,' Navy Maj. Eko Budimansyah, spokesman for Lantamal IX Naval Base in Ambon, said.
The two vessels carried 63 tonnes of fish and shrimp. 62 crewmen were arrested and several were turned over to immigration. The ships were emptied of fuel before being destroyed to prevent pollution.
The vessels will be the fourth and fifth ships sunk by Indonesia in the three months since President Joko 'Jokowi' Widodo took office.
Six more foreign ships are currently facing destruction, pending legal proceedings.
The number of cases of illegal fishing has declined since the hardline stance was taken. Some opponents say the destruction of the boats could cause diplomatic tension with other nations.
Officials with Taiwan's Fisheries Agency asked that Jakarta observe international protocol that allows its authorities to seize poaching vessels and arrest their crews, but forbids them from opening fire.
Indonesia loses about £15.3bn annually from illegal fishing and there are currently an estimated 5,400 illegal ships operating in the nation's waters. Photos.