The Indonesian government is seeking the release of six traditional fishermen from South Sulawesi caught by Timor Leste police last year.

“We will not stay idle with regard to the arrest of our fishermen by police in the neighboring country, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Minister Sharif C. Sutardjo said on Saturday.

He said efforts would be made to open communication with the Timor Leste government.

It was hoped that through the consulate general offices communication would be built again while developing cooperation in the form of bilateral agreements between Indonesia and Timor Leste.

The agreement includes standard operating procedures for not arresting fishermen using boats below 10 gross tons.

“We recently made an MOU on the SOP with our neighbors such as Malaysia, Thailand, the Philippines and Vietnam to prevent the arrest of fishermen using a boat below 10 GT, he said.

With the MOU it is assured that no Indonesian fisherman would be caught by police from the countries that signed the MOU.

He admitted there are around 40 out of 90 Indonesian fishermen that have been released by the neighboring countries.

The six fishermen from Sinjai district in South Sulawesi who were caught by Timor Leste police are Kaharuddin (30) as the skipper, Ambotang (55), Seta (55), Tiar (35), Ramsah (25) and Lagi (25).

They left their village on Dec. 24 by boat for Kupang waters in East Nusa Tenggara to fish.

2011 JakartaGlobe