Independence was supposed to bring prosperity to the people of Indonesia, but while many millions have indeed been lifted out of poverty there is one group that has largely been left behind: fisherfolk.
It is true that some coastal communities have prospered over the years, mainly those fortunate enough to have ready access to larger markets, but for the vast majority employed in actual fish catching, little has changed.
The government has come and gone, but livelihoods have remained uncertain with usually informal, often seasonal employment and the lack of even a semblance of welfare protection. Often it is a pattern of debt repayment that lasts from cradle to grave, as the proceeds from a successful fishing trip merely cover the expenses accrued by the family during the time away; there is little to save for life’s emergencies.
Much of the blame for this can b...