JAKARTA: Indonesia will mark its Independence Day later this month by sinking as many as 71 foreign vessels that were seized for fishing illegally in the country's waters.
Maritime and Fisheries Minister Susi Pudjiastuti said Monday that boats from the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia and China will be sunk simultaneously at several locations on the Aug. 17 national holiday.
Many of the boats were captured off Indonesia's Natuna Islands in the southern reaches of the South China Sea.
Indonesia, the world's largest archipelago nation, has taken a hard-line stance against illegal fishing since President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo took office in 2014. Pudjiastuti has overseen the destruction of more than 170 illegal fishing boats from several countries.
Indonesia blew up more than 20 foreign vessels in April but Pudjiastuti said that method won't be used for the upcoming sinkings. The ships will be kept intact and will form artificial reefs, she said.
In March, Indonesia destroyed the Nigeria-flagged Viking with explosives. The ship was wanted around the world for illegally taking toothfish from southern waters.