Our fishery potential is extraordinary as now only Indonesia has abundant fish stocks."
Jakarta (ANTARA News) - After some progress was achieved in the upstream sector, the country now needs to encourage the development of the downstream fishery industry in an effort to offer opportunities to idle fishermen and improve their welfare.

The Marine Affairs and Fisheries Ministry (KKP) has implemented various policies in the upstream sector to fight illegal fishing, ban transshipment at sea, disallow the operations of fishing vessels of certain tonnage, and prohibit the use of certain fishing devices.

Although poaching had reduced with the implementation of the policy, yet fish production has slowed down, and millions of fishermen and fishing boat crew members have become idle.

In the meantime, the development of downstream fisheries is yet to show substantial results, in terms of boosting the welfare of the fishermen.

The Indonesian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Kadin) believed that KKP Minister Susi Pudjiastuti had applied a good policy with regard to the upstream sector. However, Kadin suggested that the minister should also intensively empower the fishery industry from the upstream to downstream areas.

"The minister has implemented a favorable policy, particularly in the upstream sector. But in the downstream sector, for instance, in the field of processing, we have not yet seen any significant results," Kadin Deputy Chairman and Coordinator for Indonesias Eastern Region Andi Rukman Karumpa remarked in Jakarta on Wednesday.

Andi pointed out that the development of fisheries in the downstream sector can be carried out by providing boats, fishing equipment, fish seeds, cold storages, and integrated fish markets.

Andi claimed that there were millions of fishermen and fishing ship crew members who were still idle. At least 200 large fishing boats were no longer conducting fishing activities.

Moreover, a thousand wooden vessels of 100-300 gross tonnage (GT) and a thousand trawlers of 30-100GT were not allowed to operate in the waters.

Minister Susi had recently emphasized that several policies she had issued were effective, including the moratorium on issuing licenses to fishing vessels of over 30GT, and it had successfully reduced the number of poaching cases in Indonesia.

"The issuance of ministerial decrees has yielded positive results," she added.

Susis policy in the upstream area was a response to the domination of foreign companies in the Indonesian fishery industry and the high rate of fish theft in the countrys waters, which had inflicted annual losses in trillions of rupiah to the state in the past.

The minister has succeeded in eradicating fish poaching, revoking transshipment licenses at sea, banning the use of destructive fish-catching tools, and maintaining the sustainability of fishery resources by segregating fish that can be commercially exploited.

The policy in the upstream sector is favorable. The minister has revamped the earlier fishery system, which disadvantaged the state and fishermen, according to Andi.

"We support this policy as we believe that the fisheries sector can offer added value to our economy. Kadin, however, also wants the development of the fishery industry to be carried out effectively in the downstream sector," he noted.

This is because in reality, there are currently, several fishermen who are idle at a time when the production has slowed down and fish thefts have reduced.

To this end, the minister should also implement a policy focusing on the development of an intensive, systematic, and integrated fishery industry in the downstream sector, he stated.

Moreover, Indonesia has a high fishery potential that can be tapped by the downstream industry to offer more jobs to the local people.

The optimal utilization of Indonesias vast marine areas and rich fisheries resources can earn the government trillions of rupiah in annual revenues. Its marine and fisheries resources have a revenue potential of up to US$1.2 trillion a year

According to Minister Susi Pudjiastuti, abundant fishery resources are currently only found in the seas of Indonesias maritime territory, and their sustainability should be maintained.

"Our fishery potential is extraordinary as now only Indonesia has abundant fish stocks," Minister Pudjiastuti stated at a fishery business and investment forum held here, Wednesday.

She called on the citizens to help protect the fishery resources as they only had access to the seas and not to mining areas.

The KKP ministry has earlier built 15 Integrated Fisheries and Marine Resource Development Center (SKPT) in various regions in the country. The aim of the SKPT is among others to boost fishery exports directly from the center without the need to go through Jakarta.

"The SKPT aims to maintain food resilience, increase people fish consumption, increase foreign exchange earnings through exports and raise the people income," KKP Ministry Secretary General Sjarief Widjaja, said during a coordination meeting on the SKPT in Jakarta last month (March 8).

Five of the SKPT are located in Simeuleu, Natuna (Riau Islands), Tahuna (North Sulawesi), Saumlaki (Maluku), and Merauke (Papua).

Ten others are built in Mentawai Island (West Sumatera), Nunukan (North Kalimantan), Talaud (North Sulawesi), Morotai (North Maluku), Biak-Numfor (West Papua), Sarmi (Papua), Mimika (Papua), Tual (Maluku), Rote Ndao (East Nusa Tenggara/NTT), Maluku Barat Daya (Maluku).

Reporter: Andi Abdussalam
Editor: Priyambodo RH
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