Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Minister Susi Pudjiastuti said in a statement that the 1,332-gross-ton vessel was captured by the Indonesian Navy in the waters off Tanjung Uban in Bintan, Riau, on Feb 26. The vessel, which was on Interpol’s most wanted list, had changed its name 13 times and used 12 different flags to elude maritime authorities in many countries.
At least 11 crewmembers of FV Viking, comprising of Burmese, Argentinian, Peruvian and Indonesian nationals, have also been arrested. Susi said the government would soon prosecute the owners and crew of the stateless vessel with navigation violations and illegal fishing charges, adding that they may face up to seven years in prison and Rp 20 billion ($1.5 million) in fines.
A multilateral investigation support team from Canada and Norway will help the ministry’s anti-illegal fishing task force and the navy to investigate the ship’s illegal fishing activities.
President Joko Widodo has declared war on foreign vessels illegally fishing in Indonesian waters and has taken a strong stance by vowing to sink them. The ministry has so far scuttled more than 150 vessels operating illegally.