Indonesia expects contribution from economic activities in its oceans to double in the next decade. (Antara Photo/Syifa Yulinnas)

Indonesia to Double GDP Contribution From Maritime Sector in Next Decade

BY :DION BISARA

FEBRUARY 24, 2017

Nusa Dua, Bali. Indonesia expects contribution from economic activities in its oceans to double in the next decade, setting an ambitious goal that reflects the country's concerted effort to clean up its oceans, develop sustainable fisheries, explore deep sea mining and establish world class tourist destinations.

"In the next decade, economic activities on our oceans, like offshore [oil and gas drilling], tourism or fisheries could contribute up to 25 percent of our GDP, from just 11 percent today," Vice President Jusuf Kalla said on Thursday (23/02). He was speaking in one of the forums at the World Ocean Summit in Bali, which gathers global chief executives, government officials and non-government organizations from 44 countries to discuss global maritime issues.

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Indonesia, the world's largest archipelago, has liberalized investment on its fisheries sector to attract foreign investment, particularly to help process fishes for export.

Coordinating Minister for Maritime Affairs Luhut Pandjaitan said the government is pinning its hope on the fisheries industry to accelerate production in the next decade. "We produce less than 10 percent of our full fishery potential every year. There's an enormous room for growth there," Luhut told reporters at the summit.

The fishery sector contributes about 8 percent of Indonesia's $930 billion gross domestic product last year and it was also one of the fastest growing sector in the economy. The country's export target this year is $5 billion worth of fish and other sea catch, up 19 percent from $4.2 billion last year.

Luhut said Indonesia is on the right track to increase its fishery production, which started with a crackdown on illegal and unregulated fishing led by Minister of Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Susi Pudjiastuti.

It also launched a $1 billion initiative on Wednesday to clean up its seas from plastic waste, which kills fish and destroys tourism, even in remote areas.

The government is seeking $20 billion in investment to develop ten priority tourist destinations across the archipelago — of which seven will rely on maritime tourism — over the next few years to help attract 20 million tourists by 2019.

"The tourism sector is a low hanging fruit to grow our economy and creates jobs. Results have been apparent since we open direct [flights] to favorite destinations," Luhut said.

Indonesia attracted 11.5 million foreign tourists last year, up 10 percent from 10 million in 2015.

The country also launched an initiative to map its vast sea floor to find more deep sea mining resources as well as pushed for more exploration of offshore oil and gas.

"On the oil and gas sector, we have to look for the right balance. Everywhere in the world, companies are coming up with an electric car. That could make oil and gas investment less lucrative," he said.

"We should not let our other [minerals] resources lie untouched on our sea bed. We should look into them more," he added.

Across the country, the government has been building new ports and launching subsidized sea vessels to ensure seamless distribution of goods between industrial center Java and natural resource-rich islands in eastern parts of Indonesia.

The minister said the Indonesian government can only come up with 25 percent of the total investment needed to boost the country's fishery, energy, transport and tourism industries. "We need the rest from the private sector and we are more than willing to give them incentives to come here," Luhut said.

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