Five Islands in Jakarta Bay Gone Due to Illegal Sand Mining

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  • TEMPO.CO, Jakarta - PT Teluk Naga Indah - one of the companies that has a permit to reclaim parts of Jakarta Bay - is suspected of having engaged in illegal sand mining practices around the Thousand Islands Regency in order to meet the needs of its' reclamation projects off the coast of Pantai Indah Kapuk, North Jakarta. It is known that Teluk Naga has been granted the most amount of island reclamation permits under the government's scheme - namely A, B, C, D, and E Islands.

    It is also known that nine private companies have been granted the permits to reclaims parts of Jakarta Bay for commercial purposes - wherein 5,100 hectares of sea will be reclaimed to form 17 separate islands, which will be converted into commerce, residential, tourists, and port areas. "We need to investigate this matter further to find evidence that Teluk Naga is indeed connected to this whole illegal sand mining scheme," said Jakarta's Deputy Governor, Djarot Sjaiful Hidayat at Tidung Island on Thursday, May 7, 2015.

    The illegal practice was first discovered by Thousand Islands Coast Guard patrols in March 2015. According to the Regent of the Thousand Islamds, Tri Djoko Sri Sumargiono, he had received reports from local fishermen that they had spotted a 30-metre long vessel anchored off the coast of Pari Island - one of the largest island in the Thousand Islands Archipelago.

    According to the fishermen's reports, the vessel began to suck in tremendous amounts of sand - which caused disappearance of a large sandbar near where their ship was docked. "Their nets were sucked in by the vessel," said Tri Djoko. After police came to investigate the incident, it was found that the vessel in questiom is a Luxembourgian-registered ship Cristobal Colon, whose permit to operate in Indonesian waters had expired on December 31, 2014.

    Another investigation was launched and discovered that Cristobal Colon had been hired by PT Energy Marine Indonesia, which had been contracted by PT Kapuk Niaga Indah, which provides materials required for reclamation projects across the Bay. Tempo has since attempted to get in touch with the company's representatives, as well as with the managers of PT Energy Marine Indonesia, to no avail.

    According to Tri Djoko, this is not the first time that illegal sand mining has been discovered around the vicinity of the Thousand Islands - in fact, the Indonesian government had protested its' Singaporean counterparts after several of its' vessels were caught mining sand illegally, not only around the vicinity of Batam, but also around the Thousand Islands area.

    As a result of such practices, it has been reported that five islands have disappeared because their landmasses have eroded away into the sea. Put of the 115 islands which have been mapped by authorities, a recent survey found that only 110 islands remain. "One of the islands that have disappeared include Pulau Ubi," he said.

    Djarot said that he will report the incident to the Minister for Fisheries and Maritime Affairs, Susi Pudjiastuti, because he wants the minister needs to put more focus on the conservation of marine ecosystems, as opposed to just focusing on illegal fishing. "The fishes will disappear when their natural habitats are destroyed," he said, before adding that the Thousand Islands authorities have also reported the incident to National Police's (Polri) Criminal Investigation Unit on March 9, 2015.

    That said, Polri Chief Comr. Gen. Budi Waseso, claimed that he does not know that such incident had taken place. "I am not aware that such a report had been filed," he said.

    "However, we will investigate how could a foreign vessel with an expired license could still operate within Indonesian waters," finished Waseso.