Collateral damage in war

against poachers

Almost two years after the government launched an unprecedented and exceptionally successful crackdown on illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing practices, questions linger on how to economically capitalize on the success, particularly when the local fishing industry grapples with shortages of raw materials, forcing them to reduce operations and shed thousands of jobs. The Jakarta Post’s Rendi A. Witular explores the issues. This is the first of two series of reports.

by Rendi A. Witular

Dozens of locally made fishing vessels weighing more than 30 gross tons (GT) are docked idly at a port operated by fishing company PT Bintang Mandiri Bersaudara in North Sulawesi’s Bitung, the country’s biggest cluster of fish-processing plants.

One crew member said he had not gone fishing for more than a year now, but was still employed to keep the boat seaworthy. “A lot of my friends have been laid off. I am among the lucky few,” said the crew member.

Adjacent to the port is Bintang Mandiri’s cold storage and processing unit, which currently runs at less than 20 percent capacity, down from more than 60 percent before the government declared war on illegal fishing through a number of policies in November 2014.

Less than 5 kilometers from the site, PT Delta Pasific Indotuna, which exports all of its canned products to the Middle East, was forced to import tuna from India and South Korea in January after one buyer slapped hefty financial penalties and threatened to break its contract following the firm’s failure to deliver on time. Delta, with its products sold under the Aloha, Almandab and Manara brands, among others, is having trouble sourcing tuna after its suppliers, such as Bintang Mandiri, almost ceased operating in the wake of the implementation of the stricter IUU fishing policies.

Spearheaded by firebrand Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Minister Susi Pudjiastuti, the country’s war against illegal fishing has taken a toll on an unintended victim; the local fish-processing industry, which employs thousands of largely manual workers.

Mid-size fishing companies, such as Bintang Mandiri, which has never been involved in IUU fishing, employs Indonesian crews only, sources all its ships from domestic shipyards and receives capital for investment from state-run banks, have also fallen victim.

Around 10,000 workers have been dismissed in Bitung alone in the past year, according to North Sulawesi’s Association of Fish Processing Units (AUPI). The figure is far higher than the 1,700 workers claimed by the Maritime Affairs and Fishery Ministry.

While local fishermen operating smaller than 10 GT boats are the immediate gainers from the IUU crackdown, as many indicators suggest, the past year has not been favorable to the fishing industry, particularly in North Sulawesi and Maluku — the provinces with the heaviest reliance on the fisheries business. Claims of difficulties by the industry may not be exaggerated or casuistic, as insisted by the ministry.

Minister Susi Pudjiastuti

Bank Indonesia’s (BI) recent research on the regional economy, has blamed the rigid anti-IUU policy for the decline in economic growth in North Sulawesi and Maluku in 2015, where the fisheries sector is the economic backbone. Shortages in raw materials have severely hit the industry there.

The central bank said the economy in North Sulawesi slowed even further in the first and second quarter of this year compared to the same period last year, and the fisheries business has yet to fully recover despite several policy relaxations. Maluku also suffered a rise in unemployment early this year as layoffs in fisheries companies soared, according to the BI report, despite the province recording higher economic growth in the first and second quarter of the year with a recovery in fish catches.

Even the tuna-processing industry in Bali has also taken a hit with BI reporting that several export-oriented processing plants have ceased operations and shifted to catching squid.

BI’s findings, coupled with reports from industry representatives, seem to agree that the shortages in supply for the processing industry have been caused by the policy prohibiting transshipment — the practice by which a fishing boat transfers its catch in the middle of the sea to a transportation ship for delivery on land.

Transshipment has been blamed in the past for the widespread poaching that has caused the country more than US$20 billion in potential losses. Through transshipment, transportation vessels pool the catches, and directly ship them to Thailand, China, Taiwan and the Philippines without first being processed in Indonesia.

Nationalized foreign-made vessels, known locally as ex-asing and formerly operated as joint ventures with local companies, have been blamed largely for contributing to the illegal transshipment and for the widespread practice of illegal fishing. The ministry has banned the operations of more than 1,100 ex-asing ships since late 2014.

Adding to the problem, the total ban on transshipment covers all fishing companies, including those that have never been involved IUU fishing in the past and have employed locally made vessels only.

The policy, however, has triggered a domino effect in which fishermen with larger than 30 GT vessels, which usually sell their catches to industry, can no longer catch fish in an efficient way without transshipment. Supply to the industry has since been interrupted.

“If you want to get rid of the mice, don’t burn the barn,” said Rudy Walukow, the chairman of North Sulawesi’s Association of National Fishing Vessels (AKPN), which groups together owners of Indonesia-made fishing vessels only.

“We fully support the ban against transshipment for delivery to other countries. That should not be lifted in any way. But please, we need to have the regulation relaxed for transshipment to local ports,” Rudy said.

Graph Fishery sector export

Transshipment is required particularly for big fishing boats sailing more than 10 miles off coast so that they do not have to return to their port of origin once they are fully loaded, as they can transfer the catches into transportation vessels.Following widespread protests demanding the reinstatement of transshipment for local delivery, the Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Ministry issued a regulation in late April to allow the practice, but under strict supervision and mechanisms.However, the required mechanisms reportedly cannot be fully applied on the ground.

Probably out of concern for the poor performance of the fisheries industry, as its exports suffered a 15 percent plunge last year, President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo issued in late August a presidential instruction for all relevant ministries to take measures to accelerate fisheries development.

The instruction requires, among other issues, that the Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Ministry evaluate regulations hampering the sector’s development and increase fish catches and cultivation to boost raw material supply for the industry.

The instruction also came amid reports that while the domestic processing industry has been undermined, similar businesses in General Santos in southern Philippines, located near Bitung, peaked in the first half of this year after plunging last year as it reeled from the impact of the IUU crackdown in Indonesia.

Supplies of raw materials to General Santos have long been suspected of being illegally sourced from Indonesian waters.

“I don’t think they get the fish directly from Indonesian fishing vessels because of the strict supervision,” said AUPI chairman Basmi Said. “I have received reports that because we don’t catch the spawning migrating fish, the Philippine fishermen take advantage of them with their fishing vessels waiting on the border to net them.”

Despite the pervasive concerns, Susi has signaled she will not authorize further relaxations. The iron lady has argued that because IUU fishing in Bitung and nearby areas remains rampant, it would be a mistake to provide more leeway.She claimed many Philippine transportation vessels had approached the waters near Bitung to conduct transshipment with local fishing vessels, and she has demanded that the Navy’s Eastern Fleet take the problem seriously by increasing its patrols there.

“That explains why General Santos is thriving again. I was initially reluctant to allow the transshipment there, but many people demanded it. Now we have seen the consequences,” she said.

Fishing conscession

Transshipment: A double-edged sword

Transshipment is a practice in which a fishing boat transfers its catches in the middle of the sea to a transport vessel for delivery to other places, ideally to local ports or fish processing units (UPIs).

It has been blamed in the past for widespread poaching because through transshipment, transport vessels pool the catches and ship them directly to Thailand, China, Taiwan and the Philippines without first being processed in Indonesia.

But the system is required particularly for mid-sized to large fishing boats sailing more than 16 kilometers offshore so that they do not have to return to their ports of origin once their holds are fully loaded as they can transfer the catches to the transport vessels.

The total ban on transshipment in November 2014 hit all fishing companies, including those that have never committed illegal fishing.

The policy, however, has triggered a domino effect in which fishermen with more than 30 gross ton (GT) vessels, whose catches are usually for industrial use, can no longer catch fish in an efficient way. Supply to the industry has since been interrupted.

Catching fresh tuna for delivery to Japan, for example, will require transshipment. It takes a fishing boat from the Muara Baru Port in North Jakarta 14 days to arrive at its fishing concession, while fresh tuna should be on a consumer’s plate no more than 16 days after getting caught, by Japanese standards, said Tachmid Widiasto, the chairman of the Muara Baru Fishing Companies Union (P3MB).

“It’s just impossible for the fishing vessel to meet the standard if they have to catch the tuna and then return to Jakarta. That would have already taken 28 days. The role of transshipment with a transport vessel is to facilitate the delivery,” said Tachmid, whose association members only include the operators of 1,600 domestically made fishing boats.

In response to protests from businesses, the Maritime Affairs and Fishery Ministry issued in late April a directorate general regulation to allow transshipment.


However, the relaxation comes with a string of requirements that include installing CCTV cameras and fishing monitoring systems (VMS) on the transport boats. A ministry staff member is also required to be on board the ship while sailing to ensure the vessel is not transferring the catches to overseas buyers. Fisheries businessman Rudy Walukow recently pointed to his three transport vessels that had complied with the newly issued transshipment regulation. “I’ve spent more than Rp 100 million [US$7,700] to install two CCTV cameras on each boat and a new VMS as demanded by the regulation,” said the chairman of North Sulawesi’s Association of National Fishing Vessels (AKPN).

“Although it is expensive and complicated, what other options do I have?” said Rudy, whose company PT Bintang Mandiri Bersaudara has more than 70 locally made ships of various types.

Rudy is possibly among a few businessman in Bitung, North Sulawesi, who can thus far afford to comply with the regulation. There are about 100 locally made transport ships in Bitung, but most of them are reluctant to comply, given the complicated mechanisms in the new transshipment regulation.

“The regulation to relax the ban on transshipment is just too complicated. We can meet the supervision requirements, but for the transport ship to be able to serve only three fishing boats is just not efficient,” said Tachmid.

Aside from the inflexible mechanism that has discouraged others from complying, Tachmid and Rudy pointed to suspected foul play in the procurement of the CCTV cameras required by the regulation.

They accused the ministry of “directing” them to buy a certain type of CCTV camera sold only by one supplier. The ministry’s acting director general of fishing, Zulficar Mochtar, said he would follow up on the allegation.

“There should not be any monopoly for the CCTV. I will check and ensure this will not happen,” he said.

— JP/Rendi A. Witular

Shortage in fish supply for industry not national-level problem

A shortage of raw materials has struck the local fish-processing industry as it reels from the impact of an expansive crackdown on illegal fishing. The Jakarta Post’s Rendi A. Witular recently talked to the Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Ministry’s acting director general of fishing, Zulficar Mochtar, on the ministry’s response to the problem. The following are excerpts from the interview:

Zulficar Mochtar

Question: The processing industry, particularly in Bitung, North Sulawesi, and Muara Baru in Jakarta, has lodged complaints over raw material shortages. How do you respond to this?

Answer: The ministry has conducted an analysis and evaluation of 1,132 nationalized foreign vessels [known locally as ex-asing and formerly operated as joint ventures with local companies]. Because all have violated the regulations, minor and major ones, the ministry has terminated their operations. Many of these vessels used to operate in Bitung, Ambon and Tual in Maluku and Merauke in Papua. These locations are notorious for illegal, unreported and unregulated [IUU] fishing activities. In the past, many fish processing units [UPIs] received their raw materials from these vessels.

With the vessels no longer operational, the supply of raw materials to the UPIs has been cut. At the same time, we have seen a more than twofold jump in the volume of fish caught by small fishermen in Bitung after the illegal fishing crackdown. The problem in raw material shortages is because there has been a disconnection between supply from the fishermen to the industry.

The industry operates without any limitation by seasons, and they have quality and quantity standards that should be continuously met while traditional fishermen usually set sail for as much as nine months in a year and their catches are of various sizes.

Our job now is to upgrade the fishermen’s capacity to cope with the industry demand, and the UPIs should sit together with the fishermen to work out an amicable partnership. We will push for such partnerships although they will take time to implement. Another alternative for the industry in sourcing the supply is through imports. This year so far, imports have declined by 50 percent compared to the same period last year.

Another problem in the industry is its installed capacity. In Bitung, for example, they have 54 UPIs and their overall capacity is just too big, although in practice they used to run at only 50 percent capacity.

Because it is impossible to fulfill 100 percent, there should be a verification of the industry’s claims. We should not comply with their demand unless we really know the exact amount of their confirmed orders.

The UPIs have long depended on the ex-asing vessels, and now they have to adjust the way they source their material by partnering with small fishermen. The problem in Bitung is an isolated case, and it does not occur in most other areas.

Because Bitung is an IUU hot spot, it deserves special treatment. I have recently found out that a lot of the fish from the area have been illegally shipped to General Santos [nearby fish processing cluster in the southern Philippines]. Although we have put in place strict supervision, such practices still occur. Many fishing vessels under 30 gross tons (GT) transfer their catches to transportation vessels in the middle of the sea for delivery to General Santos. That explains why the fisheries industry there is peaking again after a plunge last year following our policies against IUU fishing.

In the case of Muara Baru, much of the fish there has been supplied from Bitung. The crackdown on IUU practices in Bitung has caused supply interruption. Again, we have to verify the confirm orders there because we are suspicious that the problems only occur in specific places but are blown up as though it is a national-level problem.

Question: Local fishing companies and UPIs have proposed the relaxation of a regulation on transshipment so that they can efficiently catch more fish to address the raw material shortages. How do you respond to that?

Answer: What we prevent is the transshipment for delivery to other countries. We have already relaxed the regulation by allowing transportation vessels to deliver the catches to local ports only and for UPIs. If we find the regulation to be too inflexible, we will try to include it in the upcoming revision of Ministerial Decree No. 30 on the fishing business. But it will not mean that we will allow even a slight crack in the transshipment policy that can be misused for our fish to be illegally transported overseas.

Question: So what will be included in the upcoming regulation revision?

Answer: Transshipment [for overseas delivery], the use of foreign vessels, the negative investment list for the fishing business are off limits from the revision. Input from the public includes the need to relax transshipment [for delivery to local ports]. In Bitung, we have allowed 10 transportation vessels to operate, and we will see whether this has been well accepted by businesses. Other issues in the revision will include harmonization and simplification of the many different regulations on the fishing business, including requirements for fishing vessels. We hope to pass the revision in October at the latest.

Question: Some of the 1,132 nationalized vessels have received ‘clear status’ from the audit. Can they operate now?

Answer: No. They have to deregister, meaning that after paying all the taxes they are required to leave the country because they are of foreign origin, and we have prohibited the use of any foreign-made fishing vessels. The minister’s policy has saved the majority of our fishermen who own vessels of below 10 GT. Such vessels account for around 90 percent of all fishing vessels in Indonesia. Our local shipyards are now flourishing as they have received many orders to replenish the gap left by the prohibition of foreign-made vessels. There has also been a jump in the demand for new fishing vessel licenses in the past year.

Question: But some of the cleared vessels were bought in early 1980s or bought through an open and fair bidding process upheld by our courts. Should this kind of vessel be barred from permanent use here?

Answer: Foreign-made vessels are off limit. We’ve been very traumatized by these kinds of vessels. But the example that you mention is very casuistic. But in principal they also have to deregister.

Question: What happens if they don’t want to deregister?

Answer: We will turn their vessels into rumpon [artificial reefs].

Biggest fishery center

Biggest fishery center

never saw heyday

The fish-processing companies in Bitung, North Sulawesi, Ambon, Maluku, and Muara Baru, North Jakarta, have seen a steep decline in operations with no recovery in sight after the government issued in November 2014 far-reaching policies to combat illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing activities, primarily against foreign poachers. No companies, even compliant ones, have been spared from pain. The Jakarta Post’s Rendi A. Witular has explored business conditions in these areas. This is the second of two reports.

by Rendi A. Witular

For the first time in more than a decade, fisherman Eki Mokodongan, 52, can now earn disposable income to be spent on renovating his modest wooden house on the shores of Girian Beach in Bitung.

For the past year, fish catches have more than doubled and he no longer needs to spend a long time and sail farther from home simply to fill his boat with fish. “From what I can recall, it was not until the crackdown on foreign poachers last year that we could easily get the fish,” said Eki pointing to a dozen confiscated Philippine vessels seen from afar docked idly at a nearby port.

Small fishermen like Eki have been the immediate beneficiaries of the successful fight against poachers, as spearheaded by Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Minister Susi Pudjiastuti. The Central Statistics Agency (BPS) has indicated a jump in fishermen’s welfare (NTN), with the highest being recorded in Bitung.

But Eki’s contentment is not shared by his peers, the blue-collar workers in the nearby fish processing plants of Bitung. Empty cold storage rooms and idle fishing ships are apparent everywhere.

Around 10,000 workers, mostly from nearby Gorontalo and South Sulawesi provinces, have been dismissed in Bitung alone in the past year, according to North Sulawesi’s Association of Fish Processing Units (AUPI).

A set of policies aimed at cracking down on poachers, but which also inflicted collateral damage on many local law-abiding companies, have caused difficulties for the industry in Bitung in sourcing their raw materials, which are now being supplied only by small fishermen.

Maritim sector

Fishing vessels weighing more than 30 gross tons (GT), which usually sell their catches to the industry, cannot fish efficiently as the government has limited the use of transportation vessels in transshipment — the practice by which a fishing boat transfers its catch in the middle of the sea to another ship for delivery to land. Supply to the industry has been interrupted ever since.

Bitung, an hour’s drive from North Sulawesi’s capital Manado, is home to 54 fish-processing units (UPIs), one has recently shut down, with a combined capacity to process a 1,400 tons of fish per day.

The city of around 175,000 people is home to the country’s biggest fish-processing industry; half of the nation’s 14 canned tuna facilities are located in Bitung, which is also notorious for as an IUU-fishing hot spot.

However, Bitung has actually never seen its heyday since then president Soeharto planned for the city to become the center of the fish-processing industry in the 1980s.

The industry’s overall operations have never exceeded 54 percent of its installed capacity due to rampant IUU-fishing that saw catches from the surrounding seas illegally shipped to General Santos, a nearby fisheries center in the southern Philippines, dubbed the region’s tuna capital.

Hope once abounded that the ongoing and expansive crackdown on poaching would eventually benefit Bitung and weaken General Santos as more fish was expected to flow into Bitung. But that was merely in theory.

While General Santos has seen production increase in the first half of the year by 25 percent compared to the same period last year, Bitung has been left high and dry.

Today, the industry in Bitung is running at 9.7 percent of its capacity, down from more than 50 percent in 2014, according to the Bitung Fisheries Agency. “More than two years ago, Bitung used to supply raw material to the processing industry in Muara Baru [Jakarta] and Bali. Now it’s the other way around. We now even have to import from India and South Korea to stay afloat,” said AUPI chairman Basmi Said.

Basmi’s company, PT Delta Pasific Indotuna, was forced to import tuna from India and South Korea in January after a Middle East buyer slapped hefty financial penalties and threatened to break their contract following the firm’s failure to deliver on schedule.

“Even when poaching is rampant with most of the fish being shipped overseas, the industry could still survive. But now by running at around 9 percent of capacity, the industry is in sudden death,” said Basmi.

Welfare indicator

The industry’s plight is not an empty claim. Bank Indonesia’s (BI) recent research on the regional economy blamed the anti-IUU fishing policies for contributing to the decline in the economic growth of North Sulawesi last year and in the first two quarters of this year.

BI said that although the relaxation in transshipment policies had increased growth in the fisheries sector in the second quarter of the year, it had yet to boost growth in the processing industry, which saw a contraction of 1.23 percent.

“In fish-processing activities, several companies have sourced their raw material from Java and from imports,” said BI in its research.

Fishing and the fish-processing business, with an emphasis on exports, in North Sulawesi have long served as the backbone of growth for the province, according to BI data.

Exports from the province have remained within negative territory since the first quarter of 2015, with the steepest decline occurring in the fourth quarter of 2015 and the first quarter of this year with a more than 20 percent plunge as the industry struggled to source raw material amid abundant untapped resources in nearby seas.

Growth in North Sulawesi's

Despite these facts, the ministry has insisted the raw material shortages in Bitung are an isolated case as they have not occurred in other provinces. “We have to verify the confirmed orders in this area because we are suspicious that the problem has only occurred in specific places but it is being blown up as though it is a national-level problem,” said the ministry’s acting director general of fishing, Zulficar Mochtar.

Zulficar argued the industry in Bitung had long been accustomed to the supply of fish from big foreign-made vessels and was reluctant to adjust to a new mechanism of partnering with small fishermen for its raw materials.

But partnering with small fishermen like Eki may be complicated and need some time. “Why should I go to the sea more often now if I can earn around Rp 5 to 7 million [around US$500] a month?”, said Eki.

It may be a massive task for the government to encourage Eki and other small fishermen to meet the industry’s demand, which needs a continuous supply of fish with sustained quantity and quality.

“It may take years for small fishermen to adjust to the industry’s demand. It is just not in their class,” Bitung Fisheries Agency chief Liesje Jeane said. Liesje argued that the anti-IUU policies have indeed benefitted small fishermen, but the central government should not ignore the fact that the industry, which provided revenue to the city and employed thousands of workers, was on the verge of vanishing.

“There should be a fair solution between empowering small fishermen and nurturing the industry, without of course compromising sustainability,” she said. “But no solution seems ever to be in sight because the ministry has ignored the severe problems plaguing the industry.”

Fishing plight hits Maluku, Jakarta, Bali

Ambon fishing port chief Cholieq Syahid pointed to the Thailand-registered fish transport vessel Marine One, idling in port since a moratorium on the operation of foreign-made ships was put in place in November 2014.

“Aside from this big ship, and one processing plant over there, nothing much is going on at this port, which used to be busy around the clock, two or three years ago,” said Cholieq.

Before the government launched its massive campaign against illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing in late 2014, the port, located in Maluku’s capital of Ambon, was a prime creator of jobs and business opportunities.

The port, which houses several fish processing plants and is managed by the Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Ministry, was the epicenter of the fisheries business in a city plagued with bloody sectarian conflict less than two decades ago.

Fishery sector exports

However, the anti-IUU campaign — particularly aimed at foreign poachers — has caused a shortage of fish at processing companies not only in Ambon, but also in other fishing centers, such as Bitung in North Sulawesi, Muara Baru in North Jakarta and Bali.

Half of the 20 companies once operating in the port of Ambon have gone insolvent as they failed to source enough fish, according to Cholieq.

“In 2014, the port managed 68,000 tons of fish valued at around Rp 1 trillion [US$77.12 million]. In 2015, it only managed 8,000 tons,” he said, highlighting how hard the industry was hit.

“The 10 companies still operating in this port now just rent out cold storage to fishermen. Only PT Harta Samudra still conducts processing operations, albeit at low capacity,” he said.

Thirty-nine fishing companies and 11 cold storage providers in Ambon have ceased operations following a raft of policies to combat IUU fishing by foreign poachers since late 2014, according to recent research conducted by Bank Indonesia (BI).

The central bank revealed that the closure triggered a 7.5 percent jump in unemployment in Maluku this year.

“The rise [in unemployment] is the result of a decline in business in Maluku since 2015. The province has been impacted by the ministry’s policies,” BI said in a study.

The policies are driving up prices in Maluku and other provinces of eastern Indonesia, causing inflation to soar. Maluku, a backwater province, recorded the country’s highest inflation at 6.15 percent last year due to a shortage in fish supplies, according to BI.

The blanket ban on transshipment — the practice by which a fishing boat transfers its catch at sea to another ship for delivery to land — has been blamed for the shortages, despite Maluku being located near three fishing areas that together account for almost 30 percent of the country’s fish stocks. The fish processing business in Muara Baru, North Jakarta, is suffering a similar plight.

Strolling through the port and fish processing center of Muara Baru, visitors are greeted by piles of empty fish storage cages, pointing to the low utilization of cold storage space owned by many companies there.

Around 4,000 workers in the center, known for its fillet processing and packaging operations, have been dismissed over the past year due to the shortage of fish, according to the Muara Baru Fishing Companies Union (P3MB), which represents 61 companies operating 1,600 vessels.The industry now runs at 30 percent of installed capacity, down from 60 percent in 2014.

“From what I can recall, the past two years have been the worse for fish businesses here,” said P3MB chairman Tachmid Widiasto.

“But our plight doesn’t end there. We are now forced to pay higher rents and sign shorter contracts to operate in this industrial zone [operated by state-run fishery company PT Perindo]. The timing just couldn’t be worse,” said Tachmid.

Bali’s fish processing industry is not immune to the shortage of fish. BI indicated that growth in the overall industry grew at a sluggish annual rate of 2 percent in the second quarter of the year as raw material stocks depleted.

Even the tuna processing industry in Bali has taken a hit, with BI saying that several export-oriented processing plants had ceased operations and shifted to catching squid, a major export commodity of the province last year.

How the war against IUU fishing unraveled

Less than a month after assuming office, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Minister Susi Pudjiastuti issued a raft of policies, which have taken her into the foray of the biggest and most successful illegal fishing crackdown, particularly against foreign poachers.

Ministerial Decree No. 56/2014, which was issued on Nov. 3, 2014 and expired on Oct. 31, 2015, enforced a moratorium on the operation of nationalized foreign-made vessels, known locally as ex-asing boats, which weighed more than 30 gross tons (GT) each.

There are 1,134 such vessels, with 414 of them having escaped the country. Those that remain have undergone the so-called analysis and evaluation (anev), and are required to leave the country for good after paying their obligations. Many of the vessels are from China (374), Thailand (280), Taiwan (216), Japan (104) and the Philippines (98).

Aimed at overhauling fishing management, including the prohibition of transshipment, Ministerial Regulation No. 57/2014 was issued on Nov. 12, 2014, and is still in effect.


To ensure all officials at the Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Ministry adhered to a high standard of discipline and integrity in supervising fishing activities, Ministerial Decree No. 58.2014 was issued on Nov. 17, which is still in effect. Susi has not stopped there. To create a deterrent effect and to show she means business, more than 200 foreign boats from Thailand, the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia and China were blown up between November 2014 and August this year.

The minister also goes ballistic on politicians and fellow officials whom she suspects of trying to support illegal fishing businesses and helping the ex-asing boats operate.

The outcome of almost two years in the war is an increase in fish stock, improvement in the welfare of small fishermen, rising investment in new locally made fishing vessels and investment in the processing industry, said the ministry’s acting director general of fishing, Zulficar Mochtar.

Aside from that, the anti-illegal fishing campaign has reduced the exploitation of the nation’s fishery resources by as much as 35 percent based on data from the US’ National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and Google Satellite.

“Without the policy, fish biomass will decline by 81 percent by 2035. But with the policy and prudent and sustainable fishing management, there will be a reverse in the biomass, as it will be projected to soar by 25 percent by 2035,” said Zulficar.

Senior Managing Editor : Kornelius Purba
Managing Editors : Primastuti Handayani, M. Taufiqurrahman
Desk Editors : Pandaya, Imanuddin Razak
Writer : Rendi A. Witular
Technology : Muhamad Zarkasih, Mustopa
Photographers : Wendra Ajistyatama, Lita Aruperes
Yudhi Mahatma (ANTARA)

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