New Sea for Indonesia

Indonesia's government revealed the newly-designated “North Natuna Sea” on 14 July 2017 when it unveiled a new officical map of the National Archipelago. This results from recent negotiations with Southeast Asian neighbours and the 2016 findings of the Permanent Court of Arbitration at The Hague (Netherlands) on the dispute in the South China Sea between China and Philippines. However, this is not the first time a country has re-named parts of the South China Sea. In 2011, the Philippines named an area of sea within its exclusive economic zone the “West Philippine Sea” and, for a long time now, Vietnam has been calling an area of disputed sea the “East Sea”.

North Natuna Sea already features prominently on Indonesian charts and overlaps areas of China’s claimed sea territory. Waters surrounding Indonesia’s Natuna Islands hold reserves of natural gas and fishery resources. In recent years there have been skirmishes between Indonesian coast guard forces and Chinese fishing vessels or Chinese coast guard ships within the disputed zone. The northern waters off Indonesia’s Natuna archipelago are part of the country’s exclusive economic zone, and run northward for 200 nautical miles.

The Indonesian Navy has stepped up patrols around the Natuna islands in recent years. In 2016,  it interdicted a number of Chinesse vessels for illegal fishing. Oil and gas exploration are well established in the area. The new name is based on the related North Natuna Block and will be notified to International Hydrographic Organization.

Information provided by Budd Indonesia


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