Beyond IUUF: Trafficking in Person in Run Zeng 03 and 05

On Thursday, 11th April 2024 at 21.54 ICT, National Fishers Centre (NFC) received a report concerning six domestic fishery vessel workers (AKP) in Run Zeng 03 that jumped out to Arafura Sea, near Aru Islands. According to Government Law No. 11 of 2023, which stated Aru Islands or Indonesia Fishery Management Area 718 (WPP-718) is part of Zone 3 of the individual transferable quota (PIT). Out of six AKP, one is declared missing. The information comes as a surprise considering the Indonesian Government prohibited foreign fishery vessels from entering and fishing in Indonesian water territory. Furthermore, NFC continues with verifying and completing the information based on the information AKP who reported the cases and understands the detail both on the sea and in the Run Zeng 03. NFC processes the report to the Indonesian Government authority through the Ministry of Marine and Fisheries Affairs.

On Sunday, 14th April 2024, 00:30 ICT,  patrolling vessel KM Orca-05 of the Directory of Fishery and Marine Resources Surveillance (PSDKP) apprehended KM Mitra Usaha Semesta (KM MUS). PSDKP authorities found the KM MUS’ fuel has been decreased from 150 tonnes to 40 tonnes, which has been distributed to the partner of KM MUS. KM MUST also brought and distributed 55 Indonesian AKP to Run Zeng 03 and Run Zeng 05. Based on the information, there are indications of transhipment of fishery resources, illicit fuel transaction, and trafficking in person of AKP in both Indonesian-flagged and foreign-flagged vessels. The action violates Law No. 45 of 2009 on Fishery and Law No. 21 of 2007 on Trafficking in Person. Due to the transhipment and illicit fuel trafficking, Indonesian government potentially lost Rp

However, as NFC gathers information, we found out that the situation in Run Zeng 03 and 05 could not be considered merely as an illegal fishing, but a human rights violation in the form of trafficking in person. Moreover, the human rights violations occurred in a complex, multi-layered business structure that becomes a challenge to identify the beneficial ownership of the situation. Through a more detail identification of involving party and chronological narrative, we found how the workers were exploited and their labour process.

The conditions of fishery vessel workers: pre-departure

Indonesian AKP in Run Zeng 03 and 05 were recruited by the informal broker (calo) that operated in Juwana Fishery Port and found the victims through advertisements on Facebook.  Potentially, the perpetrator has done such action numerous times considering the 55 AKP of Run Zeng 03 and 05 admitted they have communicated with the previous AKP that already worked for a long time with Run Zeng 03 and 05. Moreover, KM MUS, the collecting vessel that was told to AKP as the vessel they will work on, is considered as the biggest and famous vessel in Juwana according to the AKP.

The workers’ age in Run Zeng 03 and 05 varied, but there is one AKP who is currently 17 years old, which violates Law No. 13 of 2003 that prohibited workers below 18 years old. Internal migration was also indicated as most of the workers originally not only came from Central Java, but also out of Java such as Bengkulu, North Sumatera, Riau Islands, and West Sulawesi. Prior to working in the fishery vessel, AKP were unemployed and informal workers that could not earn a living in the upcoming Eid-al-Fitri. The demographic information shows the AKP were financially and socially vulnerable which make them easy targets for the illegal brokers.

17 – 203
21 – 247
25 – 305
31 – 356
36 – 402
40 >1
Table 1: age distribution in Run Zeng 03 and 05
Central Java3
East Java4
North Sumatera5
West Java3
DI Yogyakarta2
Central Sulawesi1
DKI Jakarta1
Riau Island1
Tabel 2: Origin province of AKP in Run Zeng 03

Prior to work in Run Zeng 03, Ari (24), a resident of Karangasem Utara District, Batang, was a fisherman in a local trawl vessel in Juwana. As Eid approached, Ari’s formed vessel stopped operating and he could not find a living for his family. Ari once migrated to Jakarta and worked as a debt collector but it only lasted for a month. Due to the difficulty of finding a job, Ari looked at job opportunities on Facebook.

On Facebook, Ari found the opportunity to work in the collecting vessel KM MUS. Ari observed KM MUS is the biggest and famous vessel in Juwana Fishing Port. The owner of the vessel is PT Monster Laut Indonesia (MLI), a fishery processing industry based in Pati, Central Java. Based on their website, MLI has a cold storage capacity of 5000 tonnes and exported fishery products abroad.

Company certificate obtained  from the General Law Administration (AHU) Department showed that PT MLI is carrying out wild capture industry by fishing vessels with pelagic rings, large pelagic rings and basic pelagics, squid to catch a variety of fish ranging from sticks, pelagic, and tuna. In addition to fishing, PT MLI also has a production line for freezing, preventing, packaging of fish that has the final product of fish flour, tuna cans, sticks. In the field of ships, PT MLI also has ships repair, machinery repair, and construction trades. This shows that PT MLI has a fairly deep market integration and dominates almost the entire supply chain and value chain of the fishing industry.

One of the commissioner and director in PT MLI is Kasnadi, who holds the position of Main Commissioner and owns 25% of the company share. Kasnadi also owns a purse sein fishery vessel named KM Berkah Mina Perdana that is sized 198 GT. According to the fishery business licensing, the KM Berkah Mina Perdana license started on 31 December 2023 to fish in WPP 718.

In 2023, KKP sealed cold storage owned by PT MLI in Pati after a report concerning the illicit distribution of fishery products imported from China in the local market. 100 tonnes of fish were found inside the cold storage allegedly received from PT SSI that was purchased from PT K. 

Based on the Fishery Business License No. 38.23.0001.123.41084, KM MUS was registered under the name of Astri Weita, a DKI Jakarta resident that is the wife of Yusuf Ramli, the owner of PT Satya Trinadi Komira Perkasa or Komira Group. Komira is the fish processing industry based in Jakarta that specialized in squid, octopus, tuna, mackerel, ribbon fish, and frozen barracuda that were exported to China and Taiwan.  In the first half of 2020, Komira recorded increased transaction volume to 25,04%. Other than Jakarta, Komira also has a fishing processing unit in Southeast Sulawesi. Komira’s website also shows that the company also imported Pacific and Japanese Mackerel from Japan, China, and South Korea.

According to Trademo, PT Satya Trinadi Kormira has a trade value of USD 733,000 (Rp 11,869,359,050) with top products including frozen mackerel and mackerel. Among 11 trading partners of Kormira, Trademo shows two samples of partners including Jinjiang Fuhong Aquatic Co Ltd and Nuri Corporation. In 2018, Kormira also participated in Seoul International Food Expo.


Based on the information they received on Facebook, workers in KM MUS will receive salary Rp 2,000,000, catching bonus, and holiday allowance. However, Ari admitted he was not provided Work-At-Sea Contract (PKL), was not requested any National Identification (KTP) nor there was any inspection prior to the ship’s departure. The departure was delayed as calo told that the vessel still needed more workers as they need in total 60 workers because they will work in a bigger Chinese vessel. Ari would not mind if he has to work with the Chinese vessel considering he desperately needs to find money at the moment. On 26 March, the vessel depart to Arafura Sea

The steaming days to Arafura Sea last for 11 days. By the time reaching the Arafura Water, Ari saw a big, steel vessel with Indonesian-flagged but Chinese-looking workers. As KM MUS approached the vessel, 60 AKP were splitted to Run Zeng 03 and 05 respectively. By the time they reached Run Zeng, AKP were told to work immediately to unload the fish from Run Zeng to KM MUS.

Labour Process

The total load of KM MUS is 300 tonnes in which the workers were told to unload from Run Zeng to the collecting vessel. The total labour consisted of three days with a total duration of 24 hours. The Indonesian worked alongside with the Chinese to transport the fish with each of the workers receiving six hours working time in a day. After their ship ends, the workers will spend the day resting. 

Other than the newly transported workers from Juwana that departed from KM MUS in March 2023, there were already at least 50 Indonesian AKP that already worked at Run Zeng 03 and 05 for a few months. According to the information in TikTok, KM MUS have been on the Timor Sea at least on February 2024 and likely depart from Juwana on December 2023. The old and recently arrived AKP worked together to load the fish from Run Zeng 03 and 05 for only a day, before the old AKP was picked up by another unknown collecting vessel. 

Run Zeng 03 and 05 used a double rig trawl to catch and pull the fish from mackerel, ray, and demersal fish. There were at least a total of 42 workers in each vessel consisting of 17 Chinese workers and 25 Indonesian. Communication at the vessel was mediated by one of Indonesian AKP, Sanusi, who speaks Chinese as he was an Indonesian migrant worker in Taiwan. Moreover, one of the Chinese workers also speaks Indonesian.

When He moved to Run Zeng 03, Ari spoke with the previous Indonesian workers that already worked with Run Zeng 03. The former AKP told Ari that he ‘needs to be careful as this vessel is not right’. According to the former AKP, the working hours consisted of six hours throwing the nets, four hours waiting, and another six hours of pulling and packing the fish. In a day, the vessel catched 10 tonnes of fish where four tonnes will be thrown back at sea. 

Ari admitted that working at Run Zeng is his worst experience at the vessel. At Run Zeng, Alfin was assigned as chef specifically for the Indonesian workers. The food supply was the leftover from the Chinese workers that had its own chef and kitchen. After the strikes, Indonesian workers are not allowed to cook their own meal and have to eat the leftovers from the Chinese workers. For drinks, workers rely on rain and the water from the air conditioning.

Handwritten in Run Zeng Indonesian workers bed: “which one is correct?”

The bed in Run Zeng 03 is considerably better than any that Ari ever experienced, however, it has a different room with the Chinese workers. In the Indonesian bed, there were a lot of handwritten letters by the former Indonesian workers that cursed and said to not work at the vessel, including asking for help and the complaints from the previous workers. Despite there being no physical altercation, Ari said there was a lot of verbal abuse coming from the Chinese captain and Chinese workers.

AKP Movement

After three days of work, the old AKP became aware that they were supposed to receive holiday allowance. As a result, the workers complained to the captain but the captain said He did not know of such an obligation to pay the allowance. The workers later texted their recruiter but the recruiter told them to talk to the captain again. Due to the lack of clarity, the workers threatened to strike until they got the allowance and to be sent home. The workers did strike and if their demand not met in 30 days, they plan to jump out of the sea.

One of the workers, Sanusi, experienced work at the sea as he used to be an AKP in Indramayu, West Java. As he can also speak Chinese, Sanusi was appointed by his colleagues as Indonesian representative to negotiate with the Chinese captain. The awareness to negotiate was started from the fact they did not receive catching bonus and holiday allowance despite what was promised by calo. During negotiations, Sanusi was told by the Chinese interpreter that he needs to speak calmly because the one who speak with the captain on the phone is someone who holds ‘general ranking’. That person is indicated as someone who guarantees and collaborates with Run Zeng.

Other than forced labour, Indonesian workers also witnessed the loading of fuel from KM MUS to Run Zeng 03. However, they did not know if any transaction occurred.

Potential State Loss

Run Zeng 03 and 05 sized 870 GT and used a double rig trawl. According to Government Law No. 85 of 2021, the tariff for double rig trawl is Rp 265,000 per gross tonnes Therefore, each Run Zeng requires Rp 233,160,00 or in total Rp 466,320,000 that will be transferred to non-tax state income.

The amount of fish transferred to Run Zeng 03 and 05 to KM MUS reached 300 tonnes that consisted of ray, mackerel, and demersal fish. Considering the average fish cost USD 2 (Rp 32,000), the total valuation received by KM MUS reached USD 600,000 or Rp 9,7 billion. To accumulate such numbers, AKP only paid Rp 250,000 or only 0,025% of the gross profit received by KM MUS. Moreover, illicit 110 tonnes of solar transaction lost Rp 2,024,550,000.

Conclusion and Recommendation

Based on the above explanation, it can be indicated that KM MUS, Run Zeng 03 and 05 involved in trafficking in person:

  1. The informal brokers exploited the social and financial vulnerability of AKP that has no job and need a living
  2. Manipulation by calo regarding the place of workers, mode of workers, and the salary of the workers
  3. Long working hours without fair remuneration

Moreover, the cases also shed light on the beneficial ownership and partner of KM MUS or Run Zeng 03 and 05 that were profited by trafficking in person. Therefore, DFW recommend the Indonesian government to consider the following actions:

  1. PSDKP-KKP to investigate PT Monster Laut Indonesia as the alleged beneficial ownership of KM MUS. The search aims to find the evidence and the involvement of MLI management on the transhipment, illicit fuel transaction and trafficking in person.
  2. Improving surveillance in the border area, especially at the foreign-flagged vessel and continue to pursue Run Zeng 03 and 05
  3. The Indonesian government reported and coordinated with Interpol to issue the notification for the position of Run Zeng 03 and 05 as it indicated IUUF in Indonesian waters.
  4. KKP and Indonesian policy to investigate the trafficking in person in the fishery business that were conducted by the owner of KM MUS
  5. KKP to conduct routine inspection toward the fishery vessel to prevent transhipment, illicit fuel transaction, and trafficking in person.
  6. Demand the Indonesian Ministry of Foreign Affairs to coordinate with the owner of Run Zeng to ensure the safety and rescue of 30 Indonesian workers that still in Run Zeng

Read also : DFW demands Indonesian Government to Investigate Ocean Crime in Arafura Sea

Read also :Kapal Perikanan Ilegal Diamankan di Laut Arafura, Diduga Terlibat Perdagangan Orang

One Response

  1. The article, authored by an individual who diligently conducted research into the illicit practices of IUU (Illegal, Unreported, and Unregulated) fishing within the Southeast Asian region, provides a comprehensive and illuminating perspective. Through a thorough examination, it offers valuable insights into the intricate workings of this clandestine industry.

    One of the most striking aspects highlighted is the viewpoint from the fishermen themselves, offering a unique and often overlooked angle. By delving into their experiences and challenges, the article paints a vivid picture of the realities faced by those on the front lines of IUU fishing operations.

    Moreover, the article delves into the complex web of recruitment within the industry, shedding light on the methods used to enlist fishermen into these operations. It uncovers the often exploitative practices involved in the recruitment process, further underscoring the human cost of IUU fishing.

    Furthermore, the article doesn’t shy away from addressing the key players behind these illicit fishing activities. By identifying the entities and individuals backing fishing companies in the region, it provides crucial insights into the power dynamics at play within this shadowy industry.

    In essence, this article serves as a vital exposé, bringing to light the multifaceted dimensions of IUU fishing in Southeast Asia. Through meticulous research and a focus on the perspectives of those directly involved, it offers a compelling narrative that demands attention and action from stakeholders at all levels.

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