Indonesia marked its 71st Independence Day today with a series of events including the parading of the country's original national flag at the presidential palace for the first time in decades, and sending more boats to the bottom of the ocean.

The government last month vowed to sink 71 foreign vessels by today.

Since President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo took office in 2014, he has backed the sinking of foreign boats as part of a crackdown on illegal fishing in Indonesian waters. The government estimates that a total of 170 vessels have since been destroyed. In April, it sunk 23 Malaysian and Vietnamese vessels.

Fisheries Minister Susi Pudjiastuti announced in early August that the government planned to sink an additional 71 ships, including Chinese vessels, which were believed to be conducting illegal fishing in Indonesian waters.

Pudjiastuti “said the ships will be sunk to create artificial reefs,” VesselFinder reports.

Eight illegal fishing vessels from the Philippines were destroyed on Monday, and “instead of blowing the boats up, authorities sunk the vessels by making holes in them, as police said bombing the boats damaged the environment,” Channel NewsAsia reports.

Last year, the Indonesian Navy also said it would blow up 70 foreign vessels as the country celebrated its 70th independence day. The total number of ships sunk then was 38, of which 34 were foreign vessels and four Indonesian.

First Editor: Edward White
Second Editor: J. Michael Cole