Indonesia delays implementation of widely criticized fishing policy
- The Indonesian government has postponed the implementation of a new fisheries policy based on catch quotas amid near-universal criticism from stakeholders.
- The Fisheries Ministry said the one-year delay would allow more time to prepare basic infrastructure, but some observers speculated it was also likely linked to political factors.
- The quota-based fisheries management policy, which was implemented in March this year, will affect industrial, local and non-commercial fishermen, while small-scale fishermen are exempt from the quota.
- However, the Ministry of Fisheries said it would use the extended time to increase efforts to sensitize the public, educate and gain support for implementing the new policy.
JAKARTA – The Indonesian government has postponed the implementation of a new fisheries policy that has received little support from fishermen and widespread criticism from experts and regulatory bodies.
The quota-based fisheries management policy, introduced in March this year, was initially scheduled to be fully implemented at the start of the new year, but the Indonesian Fisheries Ministry issued a decree on November 29 that pushed the new start date to 2025.
“In fact, we thought about postponing the implementation to make sure everything is well prepared,” Trian Yunanda, a senior official at the Fisheries Ministry, told reporters in Jakarta on December 6.
The new strategy aims to maximize state revenues from the fisheries sector. One of the major policy changes from the previous mechanism is the introduction of quota-based fishing for industrial, local and non-commercial fishermen in six fishing zones covering the archipelago’s 11 fishery management areas.
Previous fisheries management policy allowed all fishers, from artisanal to industrial, to catch as much fish as they wanted as long as the total catch did not exceed the total permitted catch, which did not exceed 80% of the estimated fish stock. The new quota system will allocate a percentage of the total catch to each category of fishermen.
Those affected are industrial, local and non-commercial fishermen, while small-scale fishermen are exempt from the quota. In addition, industrial fishermen are not allowed to operate within 12 nautical miles (22 km) of the coast. The Indonesian Ministry of Fisheries says this approach would help reduce pressure on fish stocks and maintain their sustainability, while encouraging and benefiting small-scale fishermen who make up the majority of fishermen in the country.
However, this policy has received almost universal criticism from scientists, fishermen, NGOs and government agencies. Much of the opposition is linked not only to poor public communication with the policy changes, but also to concerns that they will significantly benefit large industrial fishing companies more than small fishing communities, which make up the bulk of Indonesia’s vessel-based fisheries sector. Smaller than 10 gross tons.
“The main thing that is not adequately prepared is updated data on fish stocks and allowable catches. If that is not available, the big question is what is the reference for distributing the quotas?” Abdul Halim, executive director of the Center for Marine Research for Humanity, told Mongabay in an interview. .
The latest data from the Ministry of Fisheries put Indonesia’s fish stocks at about 12 million metric tons, down about 4% from the 12.5 million metric tons estimated in 2017. The data also shows that 53% of the country’s marine areas are now considered “fully exploited.” “, up from 44% in 2017, suggesting that more stringent monitoring is needed.
Abdul said that another aspect that was not well prepared in the new policy was surveillance capabilities and resources at sea. The Ministry of Fisheries admitted that compliance among fishing companies in Indonesia is low. The ministry has officially registered only 6,000 fishing permits, but the Ministry of Transport has registered about 23,000 permitted vessels.
Abdul said the decision to postpone implementation of the policy was likely linked to the upcoming general election, as many Indonesian fishing communities are located on Java, the country’s most populous island with a large electorate. He suggested that implementing a controversial policy like this might be inappropriate for the government.
“In short, it is clear that it was not science that drove the decision-making process regarding QBFM policy, but rather the short-term economic interests of the authorities – achieving the state revenue target… and later the political elites, hoping to gain votes in the elections,” Abdul said. presidential election in 2024.”
However, the Fisheries Ministry said it will use the extended time to increase public awareness and education efforts and gain support for implementing the new policy. “Hopefully, with this delay, we can sit down together and then we can implement it,” Trian said.
Indonesia is the world’s second-largest producer of marine catches, after China, harvesting 84.4 million metric tons of seafood in 2018, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). Wild fisheries employ about 2.7 million workers; The majority of Indonesian fishermen are small operators, with vessels of less than 10 tons gross tonnage.
Under a business-as-usual scenario, the country’s capture fisheries are expected to expand at an annual rate of 2.1% from 2012 to 2030. The country’s waters support some of the highest levels of marine biodiversity in the world, and a general fisheries industry. It employs about 12 million Indonesians.
Bastin Gokun Senior Indonesia writer at Mongabay. Find it on 𝕏 @bgokkon.
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