Indonesia Deploys Fighter Jets, Warships To Disputed Waters In China Spat

 

 

Indonesia has deployed fighter jets and warships to patrol islands near the disputed South China Sea, the military said Wednesday, escalating tensions with Beijing after a diplomatic spat over “trespassing” Chinese vessels.

President Joko Widodo also headed Wednesday to the fishing-rich waters around the Natuna Islands, which border the South China Sea, most of which is claimed by China despite competing claims from other Southeast Asian nations including Vietnam, the Philippines, and Malaysia.

The Indonesian military said it had deployed eight warships and four jet fighters ahead of Widodo’s visit in an apparent bid to assert its sovereignty over the region.

“I have said many times Natuna is our sovereign territory,” Widodo told reporters.

“There is nothing to be debated…I hope this is clear.”

A Chinese coast guard vessel was spotted in Indonesia’s exclusive economic zone Wednesday, the government said.

“We have deployed eight warships,” said Navy spokesman Fajar Tri Rohadi.

The air force said fighter jets had also been deployed.

“(But) our personnel have been told that we are not going to make provocations but rather protect our territory,” said Air Commodore Ronny Irianto Moningka.

China’s foreign ministry downplayed the incident and said there was “no dispute over territorial sovereignty” between Beijing and Jakarta — though the two have “overlapping claims for maritime rights” in the South China Sea.

Indonesia does not lay claim in the South China Sea but said it would not tolerate incursions by China — a key trading partner — into its nearby waters.

“We are willing to continue to properly handle differences with Indonesia,” said spokesman Geng Shuang at a press briefing in Beijing on Wednesday.

“China and Indonesia have always maintained communication through diplomatic channels on this matter,” Geng said.

Indonesia’s move to send in warships follows the deployment on Friday of around 600 personnel from the navy, army and air force to Natuna as the military launched what it called a regular patrol to secure the area due to the presence of foreign vessels in Indonesian waters.

Jakarta said it would also send hundreds of fishermen to the area to keep an eye out for foreign vessels.

That followed Indonesia summoning the Chinese ambassador last week and lodging a “strong protest” over a Chinese coast guard vessel escorting Chinese fishing boats around the islands in mid-December.

Beijing responded that it has “historic rights” in the region and that fishing boats had been carrying out “legal and reasonable” activities.

Beijing lays claim to huge swathes of the South China Sea, where it is accused of building military installations and artificial islands — and ramming fishing vessels.

China claims the majority of the resource-rich waterway through the so-called nine-dash line, a vague delineation based on maps from the 1940s as the then Republic of China snapped up islands from Japanese control.

Empty Nets As Overfishing, Climate Change Affects Lake Malawi

Malawian fishermen work through their catch on their return ashore on the banks of the Lake Malawi at the Senga village on May 19, 2019 in Senga, Malawi. PHOTO: GIANLUIGI GUERCIA / AFP

 

On the shores of Lake Malawi, a crowd eagerly awaits the arrival of a white and yellow cedarwood boat carrying its haul.

The crew of six deliver a single net of chambo, sardine and tiny Usipa fish from the boat, just one of 72 vessels that land their catch every day on the beach at Senga Bay.

But overfishing and climate change have taken their toll.

Hundreds of local traders gather each morning and afternoon at Senga only to find that fish populations are falling in Lake Malawi, Africa’s third-largest body of freshwater.

“We were hoping to catch a half-boat full or maybe a quarter-boat… but I’m afraid the fish are dwindling in numbers,” port manager Alfred Banda told AFP staring wearily at the small catch as it was dragged onto the sand.

“Before we used to catch a full boat but now we are struggling,” he said, adding that a full boat would earn a team of between six and 12 fishermen about $300.

Bordering three countries — Malawi, Tanzania and Mozambique — Lake Malawi stretches across more than 29,000 square kilometres (11,200 square miles) with over 1,000 species of fish.

The 14,000 people living at Senga Bay depend on the lake for food and for their livelihood.

“Seven years ago there was lots more fish than today. In 2019 it is different, there’s no fish in the water,” trader Katrina Male, a 40-year-old mother of six, told AFP as she stalked the nets of newly brought in fish seeking the best deal.

“The fish nowadays are more expensive, because they are becoming scarce,” Male said. “Some children have stopped going to school because their parents can’t find the money.”

‘No alternative to fishing’

For both locals and climate experts, declining fish numbers reflect a combination of environmental change and overfishing that augurs ill for the future.

The World Bank ranks Malawi among the top 10 at-risk countries in Africa to climate change, with cyclones and floods among the major threats.

Senga community leader John White Said says increasing gale force winds and torrential rains have made it harder for fishermen on the lake.

“Our men can’t catch fish because of wind which is much stronger than before,” he said, adding that the rains are increasingly unpredictable on the lake.

“The rain before would not destroy houses and nature but now it comes with full power, destroying everything and that affects the water as well.”

According to USAID, the number of rainfalls incidents in the aid-dependant country is likely to decrease — but each rainfall will be more intense, leading to droughts and floods.

The threat was highlighted in March when Malawi was hit by torrential rains from Cyclone Idai, killing 59 people. The storm also cut a swathe through Mozambique and Zimbabwe, leaving nearly 1,000 dead.

On top of the environmental impact, the number of fishermen in Senga had doubled in the last 10 years due to the lack of other jobs, Said said.

“There is no alternative to fishing.”

One of the few to benefit is 38-year-old boat owner Salim Jackson, who rents out his two vessels.

“I got into fishing 13 years ago because I had no other option, I never went to school. But it has brought me good money,” he said.

‘Unsustainable fishing practices’

By sunset, the balls of fishing net lay stretched out on the beach and both buyers and fishermen negotiate prices.

Traders take their purchases in buckets to makeshift reed tables to be dried, smoked, fried or boiled in preparation for the market.

“Declining fish catches are mainly due to unsustainable fishing practices,” said Sosten Chiotha, a Malawian environmental science professor who works for the Leadership for Environment and Development (LEAD) action group.

“Overfishing is a challenge in Lake Malawi (but) there are efforts on co-management and closed seasons to ensure that the fishery recovers.”

Chiotha added that climate change was hitting Malawi with “increased frequency and intensity of extreme weather events in the major ecosystems including lakes.”

That leaves Malawi’s agriculture-based economy sharply vulnerable to climatic events and entrenched poverty heightens pressure on the environment.

Wearing a black silk thawb robe and white kufi cap, Said stands tall on Senga beach, surveying the scene around him.

“I’m worried,” he said. “In Malawi most people depend on fishing financially and as a cheap food source.

“The men have to cast their nets further and further away from the beach.”

AFP

Group Moves To Reduce Unemployment Through Fishing

fishermen, FG, CalabarA coalition of all youths in Olokoro clan, comprising of fifteen autonomous communities is set to benefit from the Nigerian agricultural industry using fish farming as a model.

This is because fish farming in Nigeria is important as one of the most prominent aspects of the Nigerian Agricultural Industry with over sixty percent of the population earning a living through the practice.

The initiative which will shift youths attention from white collar job to green collar job is expected to record a huge success.

Based on the direction, the Extension center, Michael Okpara University of Agriculture, Umudike (MOUAU) has expressed its readiness to train and empower youths who will be willing to embark on the aquaculture enterprise.

Addressing the youths of Olokoro at Umuahia South Local Government Area of Abia State, the MOUAU Director of Extension, Professor. Ike Nwachukwu said that Nigeria is yet to meet up with the expectations of fish consumers, and hinted that the institution’s goal is to get people who will venture into the fish business for export.

Although the institution designed plans to empower the youths, the women are not left behind as there are also empowerment packages for them. In his words,

“The skill acquisition training which will start with fishery production will house about (10) ten youths, but we will see only (2) two after interviews and tests, who will be fully empowered for the business,

“This recent method of empowerment has an edge over the previous one in the sense that it will empower the beneficiary from the beginning to the end of the programme, unlike the previous one in which after the training exercise, loans will be given to the beneficiary to kick start the enterprise,

“I want to add that the latest development restrain us from empowering more than two persons at a time, and I must say that the university is embarking on the project as part of its responsibility to empower the youth,

“My hope and expectations are that beneficiaries from Olokoro will serve as a model that will send signals to other communities in the Southeast”.

Meanwhile, the perimeter for the empowerment includes raining in two segments, a theoretical aspect in Olokoro and the practical at the institution as well as having a regular source of water supply, residence in Olokoro, a space for the enterprise amongst many others.

Imo State Government Completes Onungara Bridge

OkorochaThe Imo State Government has completed the construction of the Onungara bridge, linking the people of Owalla Avuvu and Amachara Avuvu communities in Ikeduru Local Government Area (LGA) of the state.

Residents in the communities have expressed their appreciation to the Governor Okorocha led administration for finally completing the bridge.

They said that the newly completed bridge would revitalize the love between both communities and also boast the economic activities in the area.

They noted that the fortunes of the two communities would be augmented especially in agriculture and fishing.

The traditional ruler of the community, however, further appealed to the Imo State government to complete the access roads to the area.

Indigenes of both communities met on the just completed bridge to celebrate this new feat that has kept them apart for over three decades.

The Transition Committee (TC) Chairman, Obinna Nsirim, who was on a visit during the celebration, promised that in no distant time, the bridge would become motor-able.

He appealed to the people to remain patient as the government will in a short time complete the access roads.

Niger Delta: Shell Pays Bodo £55 Million Over Oil Spills

OgoniOil giant,  Shell has made an out-of-court settlement to the tune of 55 million pounds to Bodo, Niger Delta,  for oil spills which led to the destruction of the community’s livelihood, mainly fishing and farming.

The £55m will be split between £35m for 15,600 individuals and £20m for the community.

Two oil spills occurred at Bodo in the Niger Delta in 2008, the first in August and the second in December, after which Amnesty International and CEHRD gave backing to the community to secure compensation and clean up.

In 2011, the people of Bodo, represented by a UK law firm, began court proceedings in the UK against the Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria.

“While the pay-out is a long awaited victory for the thousands of people who lost their livelihoods in Bodo, it shouldn’t have taken six years to get anything close to fair compensation,” said Audrey Gaughran, Director of Global Issues at Amnesty International.

Shell had initially admitted that the oil spills were the fault of failures on the company’s pipeline at Bodo, but claimed that the volume of oil spilt was approximately 4,000 barrels for both spills combined.

However, In 2012 Amnesty International, using an independent assessment of video footage of the first oil spill, calculated that the total amount of oil split exceeded 100,000 barrels for this spill alone.

In the course of the legal battle, Shell admitted that its figures were wrong and it had underestimated the amount of oil spilt in both of the Bodo cases. It also noted that  it had been aware, at least since 2002, that most of its oil pipelines were old, and some sections contained “major risk and hazard”.