How To Eliminate Illegal Fishing In Indonesia

Date May 25, 2009

The primary issue in the development of the sea and fisheries sector in Indonesia is the irresponsible fishing practices known internationally as illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing. These have become a direct threat to the efforts to responsibly manage Indonesia’s fish resources and are an impediment to achieving sustainable fishing.

Illegal fishing in Indonesia is generally done by fishing boats that operate without a fishing operations permit (SIUP) or fishing permit document (SIPI). These boats are surely not going to report their catch, nor pay the taxes they owe to the government. There are also boats that hold the right permits but do not abide by the stated regulations, which include using permitted fishing equipment, fishing trails, gross tonnage measurements and boats. This is not to mention the use of illegal and dangerous substances and equipment.

Then there is unreported fishing, that is when fishermen do not report their catch or production appropriately, or at all. The unreported selling of fish in mid-sea falls under this category. Meanwhile, the term unregulated fishing still does not have a legal definition. There should be a set of references and supporting tools that can quickly and properly help determine whether there were any violations in certain suspicious fishing activities. On the other hand, practitioners need references that can be understood by law enforcement in the same way they do.

A lot of fishing areas in Indonesia are considered “open access”, which means anybody can freely and easily exploit resources without an obligation to follow or comply with certain regulations. The open exploitation of fish gives a chance to local and foreign fishermen to exploit resources without having to consider sustainability. Managing the utilization of fish resources at the international and national level, including provincial and district regulations, have not been appropriately executed by law makers or business practitioners.

For this reason, a fish resource management policy that is appropriate for Indonesia needs to be established and enforced by the relevant institutions. Moreover, a greater effort is needed to overcome irresponsible fishing. Scholarly research, including that of Ongge (2008) has found several weaknesses in the handling of IUU fishing activities, including the following:

A very limited amount of government employees are investigating the fishing industry. The Arafura Sea area, for example, has only 15 fishery and sea regional office investigators. That amount is too low given the size of the surrounding Papua Sea and allows for many problems. This is especially true in several Papuan regencies where there are no investigators at all.

Fishing boats are largely unavailable. Fishing boats for monitoring are urgently needed to support and improve the monitoring activities of fish resources, and this is urgent because of the frequency of fishing related crimes that take place at sea. Most fishery and regional sea offices only have speedboats available to monitor the surrounding coastal waters and are thus unable to explore deeper waters.

Coordination systems are weak. Institutions that coordinate with one another include the fishery and sea regional offices, the Indonesian Navy, immigration and the Sea Police Task Force. Unfortunately these meetings are not routinely held and only happen incidentally when problems arise, meaning a lot of crimes at sea go unnoticed.

There is a lack of monitoring of fund allocations. Again, using the Arafura Sea example mentioned above, a mere 0.5 percent of the overall fishery and sea development done in the Papua Province is monitored. Many parties involved in using and managing fish resources should together form a fishery management plan (RPP). According to the FAO publication on the responsible management of fisheries, the fishery development plan includes explanations on how and by whom a certain fishing activity will be managed. This takes into consideration a detailed explanation on procedures and how management decisions involved will be taken, especially those that have to do with changes and developments in resource conditions from year to year.

The Jakarta Post
May 22, 2009

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