In the past month, there has been an influx of traditional fisherman accidentally crossing into Australian waters. The winds this time of year is similar to what Macasan (Bugis) sailors followed during the 16th century teripang trade with the Yirrkala and Anindilyakwa (Groote Eylandt).
Without working GPS instruments these traditional fisherman from as far as Sulawesi Tenggara accidentally enter Australian waters and are collected by the ABF where they must attend to an induction process and their ships usually burnt for quarantine safety.
These fisherman follow their “maritime instinct” to cross open waters just to catch a few small baskets of fish. If only such maritime instinct could be developed to empower other maritime cultural activities in their communities. Now I am accompanying Ms. Octavin Mubarok and Mr. Wishnu Wardhana to begin taking these fisherman back to Indonesia.
I'm thanking the Consulate Consular team who has done a great job in taking care of these traditional fishermen while I'm the Indonesian Consul in Darwin since 2014.
Perhaps by learning the past about how Indonesia became an archipelagic state we can then comprehend the necessary efforts needed to embark on the roadmap to become a maritime nation and come closer to President Joko Widodo’s vision for Indonesia to become Global Maritime Fulcrum.
With the three national maritime priorities - sovereignty, security and prosperity - perhaps Indonesian maritime diplomacy in the coming years will make a new emphasis in regional fora such IORA, CTI, and other relevant multilateral forums and perhaps even engage further those countries that once joined in the creation of a maritime state including The Bahamas and Fiji.
(Andre Omer Siregar, Consul of the Republic of Indonesia in Darwin)