Indonesia Urges UN to Declare Fish Theft a Transnational Crime – Voice of America

Susi Pudjiastuti, Indonesia’s minister of marine affairs, who is known for blowing up foreign fishing ships that trespass into her nation’s waters, has urged the United Nations to declare illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing (IUUF) an organized crime.

IUUF is not a new entry in the annals of international crimes. But as more nations are working to manage their resources to prevent overfishing in their offshore and coastal waters, IUUF is a growing concern, according to the U.N.

Although hard numbers are difficult to gather, the world’s fisheries in 2012 produced roughly 160 million tons of fish and generated over $129 billion in exports while providing nutrition for billions of people, according to World Bank data.

FILE - Indonesia Minister of Marine Affairs Susi Pudjiastuti speaks in Washington, Sept. 16, 2016. Pudjiastuti has been pushing to make illegal fishing a transnational crime since 2015.
FILE – Indonesia Minister of Marine Affairs Susi Pudjiastuti speaks in Washington, Sept. 16, 2016. Pudjiastuti has been pushing to make illegal fishing a transnational crime since 2015.

Speaking at the U.N. Ocean Conference this week in New York City, Pudjiastuti said fishing boat crews involved in IUUF “are involved not only in fish crimes but also smuggling drugs, weapons and other illegal economic products, even human trafficking. This disrupts domestic economic competition because the perpetrators have no cost and gain so much profit.”

There is little disagreement that billions of dollars, or even tens of billions, are at stake with IUUF each year.

Dependent on ocean, fishing

According to the World Bank, Indonesia, which has 2.6 million fishermen and 140 million citizens who rely on marine and coastal economic systems, claims IUUF losses up to tens of millions of dollars per year.

Pudjiastuti has been pushing to make illegal fishing a transnational crime since 2015.

She has the backing of General Assembly President Peter Thomson, a diplomat from Fiji, a Pacific Island nation that “is extremely reliant on marine resources from an economic and food security perspective,” according to a study by the David and Lucile Packard Foundation.

“I welcome Indonesia’s efforts in this field. IUUF is indeed a transnational crime,” Thomson told VOA Indonesia. “Ultimately, it is the responsibility of all parties, international organizations, governments, civil society, NGOs and the scientific community. This is not just an individual’s responsibility but the responsibility of all of us.”

With others at the conference, Thomson also spoke out against the plague of plastic waste polluting the world’s oceans.

WATCH: UN Official Peter Thomson: ‘The Ocean Is in Deep Trouble’