(AGI) Rome, Jul 13 - As a very densely populated country with over 17,000 islands and thousands of kilometres of coasts, Indonesia is focusing on the sea for growth and has turned to Italy for knowledge and cooperation to develop different sectors, from fisheries to tourism, to infrastructure and cruises. This view is firmly supported by Indonesian Minister of Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, Susi Pudjiastuti, who discussed with AGI the "great opportunities" her country can offer. "Indonesia is on the right path; for 70 years we promoted a kind of development focused on the land, forgetting altogether that 70% of our country is water. By failing to promote the maritime sector, we were left behind and have a lot to catch up on. Indonesia comes in second after Canada in terms of coastline length, but our fish exports - just to mention one of the sectors associated with the sea - is third only in South-Eastern Asia, not even in Asia as whole." This is why, the minister said, the country is determined to "promote a development based on the sea. I believe Italy, a coastal state, has the experience and knowledge we need. We can learn a lot from your companies and can work together. There are major commercial opportunities for Italy." Besides fisheries, infrastructure is an important sector. "We are planning to build 24 ports in the next 5 years and we need to open hundreds more," Ms Pudjiastuti said, referring to the great opportunities existing in maritime infrastructure. Not to mention tourism. "We have 17,000 islands to explore," and attention should be paid also to islands still to be developed. It is a situation that would be "very appealing for anyone willing to catch the opportunity and move to Indonesia." Susi Pudjiastuti was appointed Minister of Maritime Affairs and Fisheries in 2014 and ever since, she has undertaken an all-out war against illegal fishing. "Our economy is tied to fishing, which has been held hostage by poachers from different countries. Now we want it back," she stated. "Thailand, the Philippines, Malaysia, China and Vietnam are all fishing in our waters," and that impacts fish resources, causing a loss of jobs and the closing down of businesses. The environment is damaged due to fishing practices that destroy the ecosystem through the use of 'very long nets' and 'explosives'. Other illegal activities are also taking place such as "drug trafficking and people trafficking, which is the new slavery." In its fight against illegal fishing, Jakarta has chosen to play hard and has sunk several foreign fishing boats.. .