President Joko Widodo at KRI Imam Bonjol warship, Natuna on June 23 (Source: antaranews.com)

Jakarta (VNA) – Indonesian President Joko Widodo has asserted to prioritise economic development in the region of Natura island, especially in areas of seafood and energy.

The initiative came during the President’s visit to the island to inspect the area amid a recent spat over the arrest of a China-flagged vessel caught illegally fishing in the Natuna waters last week.

Meeting with the press on June 23 after the cabinet’s retreat held on a Navy warship under the President’s chair, Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi said that economic development and the settlement of special needs in the area off the Java island are top priorities.

Observers said the visit to Natuna was to emphasise Jakarta’s determination to protect the country’s sovereignty over the water territory and control of its exclusive economic zone. 

Natuna is known to have one of the largest oil and gas reserves in the world and its sea fish riches have attracted foreign fishing boats to poach in its waters.

According to the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources, there are 16 offshore oil and gas blocks in Natuna and five of them have been in operation.-VNA