Sabah’s Fishery Sector In Jeopardy If Indonesian Fishermen Start Boycott

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A trawler returns to base. The Indonesian government is calling on its nationals who work as fishermen in Sabah’s east coast to stop going out to sea till it is safe enough for them.

BY BORNEOTODAY TEAM
KOTA KINABALU – Indonesia’s foreign ministry has told its fishermen working in Sabah, not to go out to sea, unless and until security measures in the waters off the east coast improve.

This comes in the wake of the kidnap of two Indonesian trawler boat skippers (known as juragan) on Saturday, and the visit of their Foreign Minister, Retna Marsudi in Sandakan on Tuesday.

Arrmanatha Nasir
Arrmanatha Nasir

There are some 6,000 to 7,000 Indonesian fishermen said to be working on board Malaysian-registered trawlers in the east coast.

It is not immediately known if the Sandakan-based Indonesian fisher-folk would take in their government’s advice.

Indonesian Foreign Ministry spokesman, Arrmanatha Nasir was quoted by the nation’s official news agency – Antara – as saying that the government has appealed to its citizens in Sandakan not to go out to sea unless the situation is conducive.

La Utu bin La Raali from the vessel SSK 00520F and La Hadi bin La Adi from the vessel SN 1154/4F were kidnapped by Filipino gunmen off Kertam, Kinabatangan, on Satrday afternoon. Both men are from Buton, Sulawesi Tenggara.

In October, an Indonesian fisherman was shot while fishing in international waters, but it was later reported that their boat had strayed into Philippine territorial waters where a local chieftain took offence of the intrusion and had his guards chase the fishermen away.

A week later at Beluran another fishing vessel with Indonesian crew was attacked by pirates and robbed of their valuable.

Indonesia Foreign Minister, Retno Marsudi.
Indonesia Foreign Minister, Retno Marsudi.

Previously, Indonesian crew on tugboats and barges plying the east coast waters had been targeted by the vicious Abu Sayyaf.

The report claimed that based on a report by an Indonesian Consulate staff in Tawau, Johan Mulyadi, in the latest incident, a grey-coloured speedboat with five gunmen aboard had approached the two fishing vessels and abducted their skippers apart from robbing the six crew of their valuables.

The gunmen were then reported to have fled in the direction of Tawi Tawi in southern Philippines.

Arrmanatha Nasir was also quoted as saying that its consulate officials in Tawau and Kota Kinabalu were now getting more information and working together with Malaysian security officials, the trawler owners to try and secure the release of the duo as soon as possible.

On Monday, Retna was said to have met with her Malaysian counterpart, Anifah Aman with regards to the incidences of kidnappings in Sabah, and on Tuesday she met up with chief minister Musa Aman.

She had appealed to the Sabah authorities to beef up security and to ensure the safety of Indonesian nationals working in the state.

Internet photo showing a group of Buton people from Sulawesi Tenggara. The menfolk are said to be keen fishermen but they are forced to leave their shores for elsewhere as they cannot afford to buy their own trawlers and fishing gear. Some 7,000 of them are said to be in Sabah.
Internet photo showing a group of Buton people from Sulawesi Tenggara. The menfolk are said to be keen fishermen but they are forced to leave their shores for elsewhere as they cannot afford to buy their own trawlers and fishing gear. Some 7,000 of them are said to be in Sabah.

Retna was also reported to have contacted Filipino officials seeking their assistance.

Meanwhile, Consul-General in Kota Kinabalu, Bapak Akhmad Daya Handasah Irfan, Consul General was quoted by several Indonesian media as saying that as up to 7,000 Indonesian nationals work as fishermen in Sabah.

He said the majority of them are from Buton Region, Sulawesi Tenggara, who come over with their whole families while they are working here.

Bapak Akhmad was quoted as saying that the influx of Indonesian fishermen in Sabah started some five years ago and was probably due to their prowess in deep-sea fishing.

According to him, they were prepared to leave their villages and work in Sabah as they are unable to procure their own trawlers and fishing equipment to be able to work in Sulawesi Tenggara.