RI encourages fish stocking to maintain fishery resources

Jakarta (ANTARA News) - The Indonesian government continues to encourage eco-friendly cultured fish development and has begun fish restocking as part of its efforts to maintain the sustainability of its environment and fishery resources.

Director General of Cultured Fish of the Ministry of Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Slamet Soebjakto affirmed that eco-friendly and sustainable development of fisheries is being carried out in line with the directives of Marine Affairs and Fisheries Minister Susi Pudjiastuti.

"Based on the directives of Minister Susi, the development of cultured fish must not harm the environment, but it should support the sustainability of nature and fishery resources. Thus, fish restocking is also being carried out to achieve the two objectives," Soebjakto noted in a written statement recently.

According to the director general, the cultured fish sector should continue to be boosted in an effort to maintain its sustainability through restocking activities aimed at preserving and enriching the natural fishery resources.

To this end, the government, in a bid to support its restocking program, is also encouraging fish hatchery activities to produce fish seeds.

Slamet pointed out that in 2016, fish seeding activities would be focused on producing quality fish seeds for restocking fish in their natural habitats.

"The target of cultured fish production in 2016 is set at 19.5 million tons, for which some 101 billion fish seeds will be required," he revealed

Slamet explained that by providing quality seeds to the people and releasing them into various fish habitats such as rivers, lakes, ponds, and retention basins, the sustainability of Indonesias fishery resources could be maintained as its stocks would be increased and enriched.

However, such an effort must be reinforced by a strong fish seed development system. After all, an expert has pointed out that Indonesias fish seed production is still low and has called for strengthening its fish seed hatcheries.

Indonesia should strengthen its fish seeding system as it has become weak due to its impatient stance in the development of fish seeds, Prof. Widi Agoes Pratikto, the executive director of the Coral Reefs, Fisheries and Food Security (CTI-CFF), stated.

"We are weak in terms of fish seed production due to our impatient approach towards the development of fisheries," he stated during a discussion on marine and fisheries in Jakarta on Saturday (Jan. 30).

He cited the examples of Iran and Turkey as being the two countries having optimal fish seed production. He suggested that Indonesia could develop fish seed hatcheries to strengthen its fisheries similar to what Iran and Turkey have done.

Prof. Widi noted that the two countries had made significant achievements in the development of fish seeds as they did not wish to be dictated upon by advanced countries.

For this purpose, officials in charge of the sector should play a more active role in developing communication and building networks with various parties, he emphasized.

The key lies in developing human resources. If the population is large, but it is weak and only becomes a burden, then it is of no use, he affirmed.

Meanwhile, Abdul Halim, the secretary general of the Peoples Coalition for Fishery Justice (Kiara), acknowledged that restocking fish is important, but its implementation should be periodically checked.

"The restocking of fish is good as long as the types of fish being released are local species, and the stocks are checked periodically," he explained.

Periodic checking will depend on the species of fish being released as some species grow in a year while others need more than a year.

Director General Slamet remarked that the government had provided fish seeds to the people, so that they could be released into their natural habitats.

Several regional governments in various parts of the country had implemented the fish restocking program. The regions included the districts of North Barito in Central Kalimantan, Agam of West Sumatra and Sawahlunto city also in West Sumatra.

In 2015, the regional government of North Barito conducted fish restocking by releasing some 130 thousand fish seeds into several rivers.

"This activity is intended to increase the fish seed stocks in the rivers, lakes, and retention basins," stated Setia Budi, the head of the Agriculture, Fishery and Animal Husbandry Service of North Barito, Central Kalimantan.

He said that as part of the fish restocking activities, some 28 thousand seeds of local fish species of "jelawat", 72 thousand seeds of "betook", and 30 thousand seeds of "patin" (catfish) were released into their natural habitats.

In West Sumatra, the city of Sawahlunto also released some 300 thousand seeds of various fish species.

Hilment, the head of the Sawahlunto Agriculture and Fishery Service, stated that the fish seeds were released into several public water areas in various sub-district regions of Sawahlunto.

"All the fish seeds are provided by the Sawahluto Fish Breeding Center (BBI) free of charge. Some others were procured from the local people who owned fish breeding units (UPR)," he revealed.

In the meantime, West Sumatras Agam District has this year projected to produce 275 million seeds of fish from 429 units of UPR and two BBIs.

Head of the Marine Affairs and Fisheries office of Agam Ermanto noted that the 275 million fish seeds comprised parrot fish, carp, catfish, and other fish species.

"We have two BBIs and 429 UPRs in five sub-districts," remarked Ermanto.

"I am optimistic that the target to produce 275 million seeds of fish would be achieved as in 2015, we were successful in hatching 250 million seeds," he added.(*)