Authorities in Indonesia blew up the last of the so-called "Bandit 6" poaching vessels Monday to send a message to those in the illegal global fishing industry.
“This is to serve as a deterrent to others,” Indonesia Fisheries Minister Susi Pudjiastuti said, according to the Associated Press. "You may go freely in the rest of the world, but once entering Indonesia, this is the consequence."
The ship, dubbed the Viking and wanted by Interpol, was a Nigeria-flagged vessel known for poaching toothfish, a valuable deep-water species known commercially as Chilean sea bass. It was the last remaining ship from the "Bandit 6," a name given to six illegal fishing vessels.
The Indonesian navy said last month that it had seized the Viking in waters near Tanjung Berakit in Riau Islands province south of Singapore.
The ship's Chilean captain and crew members were arrested and charged with fisheries crimes, according to news reports, and on Monday the ship was sunk.
Drone video footage from the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, which hunted the six ships, shows the explosion followed by cheers and applause.
“I wish there were more governments standing up for what they can do within their legal instruments and not worry about how international diplomacy is going to play out after that," Siddharth Chakravarty, Sea Shepherd campaign leader, told reporters.
On Sea Shepherd's Facebook page, readers reacted to the news by expressing environmental concerns about blowing up the boat in the ocean.
One said it was unclear whether hydraulic fluid and oil, lead paint or asbestos could leak into the water.
Sea Shepard replied to the post, saying: "We did not observe any pollutants in the water after the sinking."
In a statement, Sea Shepherd said the ship's sinking "marks the end of over a decade of toothfish poaching in the Southern Ocean at the hands of the Bandit 6."
"Six of the most notorious and persistent poaching vessels on this planet are now out of commission making this one of the biggest successes in marine conservation history," Chakravarty said.
The outlawed vessels, the organization said, "had exploited loopholes in international law for over ten years, fishing illegally for vulnerable Antarctic and Patagonian toothfish in the shadowlands of Antarctica, outside the reach of traditional law enforcement."
The toothfish, known commercially as Chilean sea bass, is a type of cod usually seen in southern ocean waters, according to the U.S. government. It can grow to 200 pounds and live up to 50 years, according a government fact sheet.
Officials say more than 10,000 tons of the deep-water fish are caught, frozen and shipped to the United States each year. It is not an endangered species, according to the government, "but large, unreported catches from illegal fishing of this valuable fish has made effective management difficult."
Following Monday's explosion aboard the illegal fishing vessel Viking, the Associated Press reported that Pudjiastuti, the fishing minister, "posed on the beach with a group of navy officials, their fists raised in the air with the smoking boat behind them."
Indonesian President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo said on Twitter that the boat will be set up as a monument against illegal fishing.
Since Widodo became president in 2014, Indonesia has stepped up efforts to fight illegal fishing, bombing about 150 boats after declaring a fishing ban for foreign vessels, according to the Associated Press.
Stig Traavik, Norway ambassador to Indonesia, called the destruction of the Viking a "first step."
"In the future, it will be much more difficult to do illegal fishing," he said, according to the AP, "and the fish catch for local fishermen will go up."
This story has been updated.