Oil Exploration ‘Hits Aceh Fishermen’

BANDA ACEH, Aceh ~ Oil exploration has cost fishermen in  Aceh province more than US$2 million in income by damaging their nets and fish traps, a regional community leader says.

Local councilor Adli Abdullah said surveying for oil and gas along Aceh’s eastern coast had damaged the fishing equipment, much of it provided as aid for victims of the devastating 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami.

“There was no prior warning from BP Migas to the local community, so they had no time to move their fish nets and traps,” Abdullah said on Tuesday. BP Migas is the state oil and gas regulator.

Abdullah said 325 local fishermen had claimed about Rp20 billion ($2.2 million) in losses.

He added he had yet to receive claims from fishermen in East Aceh, one of the districts in the area.

BP Migas spokesman Amir Hamzah said he had not received any reports that exploration activity had caused such damage.

However, a fisherman, Munir, insisted he had lost three fish traps worth about Rp40 million.

“A boat, Zephyr I, handed us a flyer telling us to keep a two-mile distance from a ship pulling an 8.5-kilometre steel cable at a depth between three meters to eight meters,” he said.

But the warning had come too late for him, he added.

Aceh is one of Indonesia’s most oil-rich provinces.

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