Fisheries minister promises to eradicate illegal fishing in Indonesia

"I will eradicate them all," Susi stated.
Jakarta (ANTARA News) - The newly-appointed Minister of Marine Affairs and Fisheries Susi Pudjiastuti said she would eliminate illegal fishing activities rampant in Indonesian waters for the past several years.

"I will eradicate them all," Susi stated during a press conference that was held after the transfer of power between her and previous Marine Affairs and Fisheries Minister Cicip Sutardjo on Wednesday.

According to the minister, the country has suffered a significant loss, especially in the form of tax revenue, due to illegal fishing.

Asked about the new programs her ministry would be implementing, Susi said she would continue the programs started by her predecessor Cicip.

"I will see, in the course of time, what we must change or maintain regarding the various policies of the previous minister," Susi added.

According to the data from an NGO, the Peoples Coalition for Fisheries Justice, illegal fishing was on the rise. Between 2001 and 2003, 6,215 cases related to illegal fishing in Indonesian territory had been recorded.

Earlier, Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Unitary Indonesian Traditional Fishermen M. Rizal Damanik said 30 percent losses caused by illegal fishing in the world was suffered by Indonesia.

"So, according to the report of the FAO Fisheries and Aquaculture Department, illegal fishing has caused losses to the tune of US$23 billion. About 30 percent of illegal fishing in the world occurred in Indonesia," Rizal added.

According to him, the state loses Rp100 trillion due to illegal fishing each year.

"The exploitation of Indonesian marine resources was causing a tremendous loss to the state," he remarked.

These losses, he pointed out, have tainted the image of Indonesias fisheries and maritime sector, as they show Indonesia has been tolerant of illegal fishing practices that have flourished.

"We show the world that our government does not encourage fisheries resources due to illegal fishing practices that disturb the sustainable management of marine resources," Rizal emphasized.

He observed that illegal fishing trend will have negative implications on Indonesia, as fishery is a key food resource of the country.

Moreover, he stated, the new government will have to face three challenges in the maritime sector. The first challenge is coordinating the state budget for the maritime sector by encouraging the welfare of fishermen and marine economic sovereignty.

"The second is the management of natural resources that cause losses in marine and fisheries sector. The role and functions of the maritime sector is only calculated on the basis of economic contribution and land area as an indicator of mobilization of the state resources," he added.

The third challenge is to get fishing organizations, farmers, and coastal people to participate in the drafting of a public policy.(*)