JAKARTA (AFP): The Indonesian navy has arrested 56 Thai ships and 1,276 crewmen for illegally fishing in the country’s waters, the official Antara news agency reported earlier today. “The 56 Thai ships with their 1,276 crew have been arrested and taken to Sabang from Rusa island in Western Aceh,” said Colonel Syahrin Abdurrahman, who heads the navy base in Sabang on We island off the northernmost tip of Sumatra. Syahrin said he had informed local prosecutors in Sabang about the arrests. In addition to illegal fishing, the Thai ships allegedly trespassed into Indonesia’s 12-nautical mile fishing coastline. “They had been fishing quite close to the coastline, only eight nautical miles from the coast of the island,” he said. Quoting testimonies from a number of the crew, Syahrin said they sailed from Thailand four weeks ago and had been fishing in the Indonesian waters for the past week. An archipelagic country of more than 17,700 islands, Indonesia has considerable maritime resources but lacks a strong navy to oversee its shorelines and territorial waters.
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