At an online seminar originating from Jakarta on November 11, 2021, the ministry’s director general of marine and fishery products competitiveness, Artati Widiarti, reported that Indonesia’s natural fishery resources potential is pegged at 12.54 million tons annually, excluding fish produced through the cultivation method.
The ministry has been running the Fish Eating Habituation Movement since 2004 to promote fish consumption by highlighting its health benefits, she noted. The movement is aimed at increasing domestic consumption of fish and boosting the national fishery industry, she said.
The promotion of fish-eating has been intensified through national priority programs such as disaster mitigation programs, the Stunting Eradication Program, the COVID-19 Handling Program, and the immunity enhancement mission under the COVID-19 handling mission, Widiarti highlighted.
Speaking on the enhancement of the Indonesian fishery market, she pointed out how local fishermen in Buru district, Maluku, have successfully achieved the global sustainable fishery certification from the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC), proving that their fishery practices meet international standards on sustainability.
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A blue MSC label on seafood products indicates sustainable natural fishery practices that have passed an MSC audit, she explained.
MSC Indonesia had earlier collaborated with stakeholders, including the Marine Affairs and Fisheries Ministry and Maluku province’s Marine and Fishery Office, to produce a documentary film about the sustainable fishery practices adopted by Buru Island fishermen.
The principal photography for the film was done in Waipure village, Air Buaya sub-district, Buru district, from October 28, 2021 to November 2, 2021.
Quality fisheries, sustainable practices
Maluku province’s Marine and Fisheries Affairs Office head, Abdul Haris Anwar, lauded the successful bid for MSC certification saying the recognition will motivate local fishermen who have strived to maintain fish quality while ensuring sustainable practices.
“Buru Island fishermen’s achievement is proof that Indonesian fishermen can perform their work with global standards and qualities,” he remarked.
The certification also proves that synergy and collaboration among stakeholders—regional authorities, business actors, public organizations, local fishermen, and the general public—can help achieve and maintain high-quality and sustainable fishery practices, he added.
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In spite of the successful bid for the MSC sustainable fishery certification, the province’s marine and fishery office is continuing the fisheries improvement project by developing the I-Fish data program that is updated daily and is accessible to stakeholders who need fishery data, Anwar said.
The authority is also providing technical training on sustainable fishery practices to local fishermen to ensure high-quality fishery practices and fishery products, the office head informed.
Considering the several programs involving stakeholders’ collaboration, their contribution must be lauded as they have been able to satisfy the national demand for fish while ensuring sustainable fishing practices of international standards, Anwar said.
Meanwhile, the ministry has expressed the hope that the documentary film depicting Buru Island fishermen for National Fish Day would inspire domestic and global fishermen to continue their fisheries improvement projects and achieve sustainable fishery, he added.
Besides, the documentary film is expected to improve residents' and stakeholders’ awareness of efforts made by Buru Island fishermen and the importance of sustainable fishery practices, he said.
Efforts to achieve sustainability
The prevalence of overfishing in many countries to fulfill the high global demand for fisheries products could potentially harm the fisheries industry itself, director of MSC Indonesia, Hirmen Syofyanto, highlighted.
The 2020 State of World Fisheries and Aquaculture report released by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) revealed that fisheries and seafood industries are essential for global food resilience and those working in the industry, he noted.
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Around 39 million people are involved in various professions within the thriving global fisheries industry, including people sailing to catch fish, those working in factories processing fishery products, and those distributing finished products, who are mostly working in developing countries, Syofyanto said.
The fishery industry must operate sustainably to ensure that those who depend on the industry can survive and thrive, he added.
The MSC sustainable fishery practice standards provide a framework for the fishery industry to achieve sustainability, and certification granted by the organization provides a significant economic advantage and prestige to those who gain it, he said.
To achieve sustainability in the national fishery industry, the Marine and Fisheries Affairs Ministry has collaborated with MSC for Indonesia’s fisheries development project, Syofyanto said.
Buru Island fishermen have also continued their mission to achieve sustainability with the local fishermen collaborating with the Indonesian Society and Fishery Foundation (MDPI), a non-governmental organization that aims to assist Indonesian fishermen in achieving sustainability, he added.
The collaboration was established to assist fishermen—who utilize a small single- or double-person capacity boat and use the handline method to catch yellowfin tuna—obtain MSC certification, he said.
Their tireless effort has paid off with the MSC granting them sustainable fishery certification, he said. The MSC audit has proved that local fishermen's activities meet its global fishery sustainability standard, he added.
The North Buru Island’s Fair Trade Fishermen Association in Maluku became the first hand-line yellowfin tuna fishermen's body, and the second in Indonesia, to achieve MSC fishery certification in May 2020.
The fisheries improvement project has been conducted by Buru Island fishermen since April 2013, and their practices have also been certified by the United States Fair Trade USA capture fisheries standard in October 2014.
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The success of Buru Island fishermen in achieving MSC sustainable fishery certification is proof that Indonesian fishermen can perform their daily activities as per international standards, and that their mission to ensure sustainability must be imitated by other fishermen in Indonesia, Syofyanto said.
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