The Indonesian Traditional Fishermen Association (KNTI) said reclamation of 17 islands in the Jakarta Bay has cut the income of local fishermen by about 40 to 50 percent.
"Obviously, it has had a big impact on the economy of traditional fishermen as their income has come down by 40 to 50 percent," KNTI chief patron Chalid Muhammad said during a public discussion in Jakarta on Saturday (April 9).
In the discussion, Chalid said thousands of fishermen have been alienated and now find that they have restricted access to fishing since the Jakarta Bay in North Jakarta has been privatized, thanks to the reclamation of man-made islands.
"Fishermens catch has dropped drastically and the quality of the Jakarta sea water has deteriorated. The reclamation has made the waters turbid, so fishermen have to sail far away for fishing," he said.
On the social aspect, the reclaimed islands, which are designed for people of the upper classes, will widen the social gap. Compared to these, the fishermens villages are mostly slums.
Although their income has dropped and some have been forced to pick up odd jobs, fishermen have no intention of changing their profession.
"It is not easy to switch professions. They cannot leave fishing and start doing other jobs. It is their daily life. Sea is their life," he said.
Deputy Chairman of Muara Angke Fishermens Society Forum Sugiyanto said the reclamation has reduced the fishermens income.
"In the past, it was easy to sail to the islands in Jakarta Bay. Now, we can no longer cultivate the green oyster culture because their habitat has been damaged. Fishing vessels could not enter the area," Sugiyanto said.
He claimed that the reclamation which has been going on since 2012 has reduced the activities of the fishermen in Muara Angke.
"The North Jakarta waters are now closed, so how could our vessels enter the area? It is a big lie if it is said that the reclamation has had no negative impact on fishermen," he said.
The North Jakarta coastal area in the Jakarta Bay which is being reclaimed to produce 17 man-made islands and a waterfront city will increase the capital citys area by 2,700 hectares.
The Rp20 trillion-worth of reclamation project, which stretched for 32 km along the Jakarta northern coast, once again came under focus in recent days after the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) revealed an alleged corruption scandal linked to the deliberations of a Jakarta bylaw that governs the project.
On April 1, the KPK announced it had named as a suspect, Mohamad Sanusi, chairman of the Gerindra Party faction in the Jakarta Legislative Assembly (DPRD), for allegedly receiving a bribe in connection with the drafting of the bylaws.
The KPK also named the President Director of PT Agung Podomoro (one of the project developers), Ariesman Widjaja, who allegedly paid Rp2 billion in bribes to Mohamad Sanusi. The bribe was in connection with deliberation of draft bylaws on a zoning plan for Jakartas coastal area and small isles from 2015 to 2035, and on a spatial plan for the strategic North Jakarta coastal area.
According to Mardani Ali Sera, deputy secretary general of the Executive Board of the Prosperous Justice Party , the North Jakarta Bay reclamation project needs to be halted and re-discussed from the perspective of ensuring the prosperity of Jakartas residents.
The relevant parties should also ensure that the reclamation process meets the required conditions to offer benefits to people from different sections of the society, such as the high, middle and lower income groups.
After all, the reclamation and waterfront city mega project is seen as only benefiting the upper classes while marginalizing fishermen whose livelihood depended on the Jakarta Bay.
Therefore, Secretary General of the Peoples Coalition for Fishery Justice (Kiara), Abdul Halim, has called on the authorities to halt the project as it has not yet secured a legal umbrella through the issuance of the Jakarta bylaw on the zoning of its small isles and coastal areas.
Halim remarked that the Jakarta Bay reclamation project was not advantageous for the coastal community and will only benefit big property developers.
"It will only benefit property developers. The coastal communities, in this case, the fishermen, will not benefit," the Kiara secretary general affirmed on Wednesday. He said the coastal communities include the fishermen and fish farmers who cultivate cultured fish and oysters.
In the meantime, the House of Representatives (DPR), during its plenary meeting in Jakarta on April 5, passed a bill on protection and empowerment of fishermen, fish farmers and salt farmers, into law.
All legislators at the meeting agreed for the passage of the fishermen protection bill into law. The Chairman of the DPRs Commission IV, Edhy Prabowo, noted in his speech that the fishermen, fish farmers and salt farmers had lived in poverty so far due to poor infrastructure, limited access, and financing.
The government is focusing its efforts on improving the welfare of fishermen by building fishing villages and three thousand boats. "In addition to combating illegal fishing, the government is making every effort to improve the fishermens welfare," Coordinating Minister for Maritime Affairs Rizal Ramli stated.
The government will build fishing villages as part of a pilot project in Indramayu, West Java. "We will also build some three thousand boats for fishermen, and they will be distributed through fishing cooperatives," he revealed.***4***
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(T.A014/A/KR-BSR/A014) 10-04-2016 00:23:27