Trawl fishermen to get debt restructuring

Trawl fishermen to get debt restructuring

Illustration. Fish trawlers are prohibited from use because they can cause coral reef and fish damage. (ANTARA/M.Ali Khumaini)

Jakarta (ANTARA News) - The government is encouraging trawl fishermen to switch to using environment-friendly fishing gears in an effort to promote sustainable exploitation of fish resources.

As part of its efforts to encourage fishermen to switch to using environment-friendly fishing gears, the government promises to facilitate those having bad credits to get debt restructuring from banks.

The use of trawlers enables fishermen to catch more fish but they significantly damage the environment since they not only trap consumable fish but also the small fish, young crabs, and coral reefs.

In the long run, the use of trawls will lead to the extinction of fish and other marine biota, which will in turn pose difficulties to the fishermen to catch fish as their main source of income.

Trawls could net several types of fish of varying sizes, thereby running counter to the principle of sustainability and the Indonesian fishery policy.

To safeguard and preserve marine resources, the government has issued a regulation through Maritime and Fisheries (KKP) Minister`s decree Number 1/PERMEN-KP/2015 which bans the use of trawlers in fishing.

However, many fishermen complained of declining production since the imposition of the ban. Fishermen have been complaining of a drop in income and their boats remaining idle. The policy posed difficulties to the fishermen to catch fish.

Hence, the government has allowed fishermen to use trawls again and give them time to prepare for switching their fishing gears from trawls to eco-friendly fishing tools. They can use trawls until the process to switch over to the use of other environment-friendly fishing gear is completed.

"Fishermen can go fishing with trawlers during the transition period. However, there are certain conditions," KKP Minister Susi Pudjiastuti had stated at a press conference in Jakarta last month.

Pudjiastuti emphasized that the provisions include the condition that fishermen using trawls can only fish in the waters of the northern coast of Java Sea.

The government does not allow fishermen to add a boat that uses trawls to catch fish and make efforts to replace their fishing gears.

Furthermore, the fishermen are also expected to re-measure the size of their ships, and all must be listed. Fishermen can only operate trawlers in the waters spanning the districts of Batang, Tegal, Rembang, Pati, Juwana, and Lamongan. All these areas are located in Central Java Province.

In addition, the government will provide assistance to fishermen with bad credit and has urged them to provide valid data on the size of their ships. Accurate data on the size of the ships must be provided.

In this case, the government will help restructure debts of fishermen who have bad credits, especially fishermen who use transitional period to prepare eco-friendly fishing gears.

Minister Susi Pudjiastuti asserted on Tuesday (Feb 13) that all state banks are ready to restructure the debts of trawl fishermen who intend to change fishing gears into the environmentally friendly ones.

"If there are fishermen experiencing bad debts we will facilitate them to get a restructuring program for one to two years," she said when monitoring the verification and validation of trawls in Rembang District, Central Java.

The minister noted that the program is not only served by state-wned banks, but also by regional or local government-owned banks, such as Bank Jateng of Central Java.

If approved by a banking institution, the fisherman will pay the interest only, while the principal installment will be temporarily delayed.

If the two-year principal repayment is dd, she said, after two years, it must be paid immediately because the program only delayed the principal repayment.

During the assistance of the restructuring program, fishermen can certainlyare to change fishing gears and they6 can still fish sing trawls.

"Even if fishermen want to borrow another amount credits, they must consider the value of their collateral, if it is not sufficient, they must use other collateral," she said.

Pudjiastuti asserted, the assistance to fishero have bad credit is only given to those who really willing to change fishing equipment from trawls to fishing gear that is more environmentally friendly.

Yuli, one of trawlers ownersitted she had applied for a loan proposing her wooden vesselas collateral, but her application was rejected by state-owned banks.

Minister Pudjiastuti has been notified about the problem, including the high taxes to be paid. She hopes she can et help from the government to change her fishing equipment. fter all, it needs funds up to billions of rupiah to change fishing gears.

In addition to the high taxes to be borne, she said, the operational cost for this is also quite high because every year ship owners must repair their vessel that cost up o Rp50 million.

Several fishermen have, in fact, already switched to using other equipment. Trawlers are no longer used by small fishermen, but big players and several of them also use gillnet and purse seine. Hence, its use is not yet over.