Destructive Fishing Watch (DFW) Indonesia, through the Bitung Fishers Center, received complaints from 3 Indonesian crew members who were stranded in Somalia for six months. They previously worked on a Chinese-flagged fishing boat called Luqing Yuan Yu 211 with a one-year contract, December 2019-December 2020. However, after the contract period ended, the recruiting company in Indonesia and the fishing company where they worked in China did not know the contract status. Currently, three crew members of the fishing boat are stranded on an island in Somalia.
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Indonesia’s National Coordinator of Destructive Fishing Watch (DFW), Moh Abdi Suhufan, said that the abandonment of Indonesian fishing vessel crews in Somalia by Chinese fishing vessels showed that there had not been any improvement in the management of fishery crews in Indonesia’s cooperation with China. “They are victims of poor governance of Indonesian migrant fishing boat crews and the actions of irresponsible manning agents,” said Abdi. Based on the victim’s report, Abdi explained that they reported this condition to the Indonesian manning agent but did not receive a satisfactory response. “The information we have obtained is that the Indonesian manning agent is PT RCA. But, unfortunately, PT RCA, which recruited and dispatched the three people, was closed and not operating,” said Abdi.
In a report submitted to the Fishers Center, the fishing vessel crew from Indonesia received inhumane treatment from the captain of the Chinese ship. “Verbal, physical violence and food they don’t deserve because they protest and want to return to Indonesia because the contract period has ended,” said Abdi. Because they continued to protest, the fishing boat crew members were finally transferred from a Chinese fishing boat to a Chinese ship and are now anchored in the Somali port. “They have been transferred three times from the Luqing Yuan Yu 211 to the Liao Dong Yu 571 and their last position on the cargo ship Liao Dong Yu 535,” Abdi said.
Based on this report, DFW Indonesia has sent a letter and a chronology of the complaint to the Indonesian Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Jakarta. “To help and save Indonesian citizens abroad, we convey this to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs so that the Indonesian government can pursue repatriation efforts,” said Abdi.
Fishers Center is a fishing vessel crew complaint and reporting platform managed by DFW Indonesia and the Plan International Indonesia Foundation, which is part of the Safeguarding against and Addressing Fishers’ Exploitation at Sea (SAFE Seas Project) project. Since 2019, the Fishers Center has received 56 complaints from Indonesian fishing vessel crews working in Indonesia and abroad.