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Jakarta Post

Overfishing blamed for declining catches

  • Ainur Rohmah and Indra Harsaputra

    The Jakarta Post

Semarang Surabaya   /   Tue, September 9, 2014   /  10:25 am

Overfishing has been blamed for the decreasing supply of fish along Central and East Java'€™s north coast, where fishermen are also complaining of smaller fish.

In Semarang, the situation has forced many fishermen to switch occupations.

Chairman of Semarang City Mitra Mandiri Fishermen'€™s Group, Remi Yulianto, said many fishermen in the city were looking for jobs on construction projects or had moved to other cities to find work.

The condition, he said, had also driven up the price of certain fish by up to 100 percent.

'€œSmaller catches necessarily entail an increase in the price,'€ Remi said in Semarang on Friday.

 Wahyudin, a fisherman from Tambak Lorok, has been working as a porter at Pasar Johar traditional market in Semarang for four months after it became more difficult to catch fish. Scarcity of diesel fuel, which has affected many fishermen, prevented him from fishing further out to sea.

'€œI don'€™t know when I can return to the sea,'€ said Wahyudin, who had been a fisherman for 10 years.

 Data from the Provincial Marine and Fishery Agency show that Central Java is home to some 158,000 fishermen across the 17 regencies and municipalities that border the sea, of which 13 are on the north coast and the other four on the south coast.

Head of the agency'€™s fish resource management and control, Kurniawan, blamed the overfishing problem on the concentration of fishing boats in Lane 1, the area within four miles of the beach.

 Thousands of fishing boats are fishing in this zone everyday, making the area overcrowded and overfished, according to Kurniawan,

 He said his agency had made a number of efforts to help uphold the regulation on fishing zoning. His agency also tried to install coral reefs and build fish houses in a number of spots.

 Agency investigator Sujiyanto revealed last year that his office had recorded 19 cases of violations of fishing regulation.

 Central Java Governor Ganjar Pranowo has called on all concerned parties to uphold the regulation on fishing zoning. He also implored coastal people not to solely depend on the fishing sector to earn a living.

 '€œAqua culture must work. People can apply cultivation technology to develop various marine products such as seaweed, scallops and fish,'€ Ganjar said.

 Margareth Meutia, the coordinator of Seafood Savers, an initiative of the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), said fishermen in Sendang Biru beach in Malang, East java, had seen declining stocks of tuna.

 '€œIf there'€™s no improvement in fishing management, we could see [tuna] scarcity,'€ she said recently.

She cited a study from Malang Brawijaya University, which said that in 2007, fishermen caught a total of 1,034 tons of tuna weighing 35 kilograms. However, by 2012, the catch for that size of fish had slumped to 564 tons.

Margareth also encouraged people to refuse to buy baby tuna fish, as is increasingly the case in Europe.

Darmawan, a tuna fish production researcher at Malang Brawijaya University, said that the declining fish numbers had forced fishermen to go as far as the border with Australia. He predicted that, with stocks expected to continue to decline, those trips would only get further.