Indonesia sinks 34 of its neighbours' boats to celebrate its Independence Day

The boats were scuttled after being seized for illegal fishing

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The Independent Online

Indonesia has sunk 38 boats seized for illegal fishing as part of the country’s independence day celebrations.

Four boats were local, but 34 came from neighbouring countries such as Vietnam, the Philippines, Thailand and Malaysia, Channel NewsAsia reports.

The boats were sunk as part of a commemoration of Indonesia’s 70th Independence Day.

As part of the festivities, five boats were laden with small explosives and sent to the bottom of the ocean on Tuesday in an event televised nationwide.

Other boats were scuttled in a less dramatic manner, emptied of oil and stationed around different parts of the archipelago of more than 17,000 islands.

To avoid harming the coral, they were all sunk at a depth of 40 metres or more.

Indonesia’s Minister for Maritime and Fisheries, Ms Susi Pudjiastuti, said the sinking was a show of strength to make clear the country is serious about its territorial integrity and maritime sovereignty.

"We have to be able to show that we can be triumphant on the sea because the sea is the future of our nation,” she said.

The boats that were scuttled could act as artificial reefs for fish and other marine life.

A spokesman of the Vietnamese Ministry of Foreign Affairs said she was “deeply concerned” about the sinking of boats belonging to Vietnamese fishermen.

According to Indonesian President Joko Widodo, his nation loses billions over $20 billion (£12 billion) a year as a result of illegal fishing