Troubled Waters

Posted: May 13, 2019

Indonesia is standing up against illegal fishing. On May 4, authorities sank 51 foreign ships they had seized operating illegally in their waters. The sunken ships were a warning to other countries. “Stay out of our waters!”

            Indonesia has expansive waters. It has some of the world’s richest fishing areas. The 51 ships were sunk at five ports across the Indonesian waterways. They included 38 Vietnamese-flagged ships, six Malaysian, two Chinese, and one Filipino ship. The remaining ships were foreign owned, but they were deceptively flying the Indonesian flag.

            Fisheries Minister Susi Pudjiastuti announced that the ships were a threat to her country’s fishing industry. She said, “This crime of illegal fishing in our waters was out of mind. We can’t tolerate anymore.” In her speech, she alerted the public to the danger of the illegal boats and their crews. They not only steal Indonesian fish, but they are often involved in modern day slavery to provide workers on the boats.

            This sinking operation was low-key compared to previous demonstrations. In the past, illegal boats were blown to pieces. The explosions were even televised! This week, a video released by the fisheries ministry showed officers filling the illegal boat with sand to sink it.  

            Since 2014, Indonesia claims to have sunk more than 500 illegal fishing vessels. Last year, they sank 125. The majority of those vessels were Vietnamese-flagged ships.

            It is clear that Indonesia is troubled over its waters. The country is an archipelago, or group of islands. It has an enormous number of islands—more than 17,000! That covers a vast stretch of ocean as part of their territory.  

            In the New Testament we read time and time again about fishermen. Sometimes they filled their boats with fish. Other times, they caught nothing. How many fishing references can you find?

Workers flood the cargo bay of a Vietnamese-flagged boat to sink it in the waters off Datuk Island, West Kalimantan, Indonesia, Saturday, May 4, 2019. Authorities sank 51 foreign fishing boats caught operating illegally in the Indonesian waters. (AP Photos/William Pasaribu)