In a bid to maintain its sovereignty in the region, Indonesia announced on Wednesday evening that it will seek to change the name of the South China Sea to the Natuna Sea in the area within 200 miles of its Natuna Islands.
Ahmad Santosa, the Chief of Task Force 115, an agency combating illegal fishing, said the proposal will “be given to the United Nations,” adding that “if no one objects…then it will be officially the Natuna Sea.”
The plan would involve renaming the sea surrounding the Natuna Islands, which lie to the northwest of the Indonesian part of Borneo, within their 200 nautical mile exclusive economic zone.
The islands’ mayor, Hamid Rizal, said the change was aimed at helping people to understand that section of the sea belongs to Indonesia, and to help fight illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing in Indonesian waters.
On Wednesday, Indonesian Independence Day, authorities sank 60 vessels – 58 foreign boats and 2 domestic vessels – because of such fishing. Most of these were in the Natuna area, which is often claimed by China as a traditional fishing ground.
The same day, Minister of Fisheries and Marine Affairs, Susi Pudjiastuti, said “my ministerial role is dealing with fish and all natural resources from the sea. I do not talk about sovereignty of political territories. I am talking about sovereignty over fish and ocean marine resources. As long as the fish are swimming in Indonesia’s EEZ, they are Indonesian fish. If someone takes it from there, it is illegal.”
Susi added that Indonesia only has a fishing rights agreement with Malaysia in the Malacca Strait. She highlighted that Indonesia does not recognize any traditional fishing ground, referring to Chinese claims in Natuna’s waters. (PNA/Kyodo)
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