President Joko Widodo’s plan to establish Indonesia as a ‘global maritime axis’ took a step forward last week as US ambassador Robert Blake announced a partnership programme to help improve marine law enforcement and sustainable fisheries management in the world’s largest archipelagic nation.

According to the World Bank, illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing (IUUF) costs an estimated $20 billion in lost revenue annually. Around a quarter of these losses occur in Indonesia, whose fishing industry is second only to China in size.

2015 saw Indonesia launch a high profile ‘war’ on IUUF, as charismatic new Marine Affairs & Fisheries minister, Susi Pudjiastuti set about sending a strong message to Indonesia’s neighbours, by very publicly blowing up vessels caught fishing illegally and arresting their crews. Since she took office in October 2014, 157 boats have been seized and 113 sunk, while 15 companies have lost their business permits. Pudjiastuti has also banned transshipment at sea and restricted the area open to commercial fishing.

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