By Ryan Dagur
A fisherman’s advocacy group has urged the government to immediately release 88 men, who they say were arrested illegally earlier this month for alleged fishing violations.
The fishermen, from six boats based in Jepara district and Juwana sub-district in Central Java, were apprehended on April 8 by officials from the Sea Security Coordinating Board in Rakyat Kampung Baru harbor in East Kalimantan.
Abdul Halim, program coordinator at the People’s Coalition for Fisheries Justice, said yesterday that regulations state that if a fisherman is caught violating fishing rules he is to be issued with a warning letter.
He is allowed three, after which if he continues to commit violations within a three month period after his final warning his fishing license will be suspended and then annulled, he said.
“In this case the proper procedure has not been followed. They have been detained indefinitely. Over a week later there is no clear explanation as to what they did wrong,” he added.
He accused officials from the Marine Fisheries Service of trying to extort money from the fishermen.
“This case is a clear violation of their basic rights,” he said.
He urged President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono to intervene and order their release.
“We also ask the Ministry of Maritime Affairs and Fisheries to clarify why they were detained. Don’t let the fishermen or their families suffer,” he said.