A fisherman from Indonesia was shot within the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) of Papua New Guinea (PNG). The report from news sources is that some members associated with the Papua New Guinea Defense Force (PNGDF) carried out the shooting that killed the victim on Monday, 22 August. Per reports from the media, an Indonesian-flagged fishing vessel named the KMN Calvin 02 was approached within the PNG territorial waters by a PNGDF patrol boat that reportedly opened the fire, taking the life of one.
While the sequence of events remains unclear until now, media reports in Indonesia initially mentioned that an Australia-based warship had opened fire. However, the Australian Government has denied this.
A member of the Indonesian fishing boat crew, who discussed with KabarPaupa.com, mentioned that if he was not mistaken, the warship PNGDF had a hull number, 401, that corresponds to the HMPNGS Ted Diro.
The latter is the first Guardian-class patrol boat delivered by Australia to PNG. Australia has reportedly committed to providing the PNGDF with four Guardian-class vessels that it plans to equip with unspecified weapons.
Sources further confirmed to the Overt Defense that, during this time, works to arm PNG’s Guardian-class vessels are yet to start.
Efforts to track the KMN Calvin 02 and Ted Diro via open-source means, including AIS data, were unsuccessful. However, photos released by the US Coast Guard (USCG) highlight that two of the three Guardian-class patrol vessels were in the port at the Manus Naval Base when the USCGC Oliver Henry reached on 14 August.
Given that Guardian-class patrol boats of the PNG are not so far armed with any big calibre weapons, it seems possible that the shooting was carried out by the PNGDF officers who were empowered with small arms.
Overt Defense tried contacting Australia’s Department of Defence and the PNG government for comments. However, they didn’t reply with answers to questions before the publication.
Illegal fishing carried out by Indonesia’s fishers has exploded within PNG EEZs and Australia with the onset of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. In 2021, several Indonesia-based Fishing Boats were also burnt off the coast of Australia, resulting in a diplomatic incident.
On 24 August, a Defence spokesperson reported to the Overt Defense that the Defence department knows about the media reports published this week regarding the death of a fisherman from Indonesia off New Guinea’s south coast. Australian personnel and vessels weren’t involved in the incident.
References: Tempo.CO, Indonesia Posts, Overt Defense