Jakarta. Indonesia's Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Ministry said on Thursday (18/01) activists should stop provoking fishermen to protest against government policy on cantrang, or fishing trawler, after an agreement was reached between fishermen from Java's north coast and the ministry.
The ministry said the use of cantrang is unsustainable and not environmentally friendly since its net reaches the seabed and destroys coral reefs and the ecosystem around them.
Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Minister Susi Pudjiastuti said the ministry will replace the fishermen's cantrang with more environmentally friendly equipment.
"We're well on our way to replacing all of them. I don't want to hear stories about cantrang anymore," Susi said in a press conference at the ministry’s headquarters.
The ministry issued its ban on cantrang earlier this month.
On Wednesday, thousands of fishermen rallied in front of Merdeka Palace in Central Jakarta to demand they be allowed to keep using the antiquated fishing trawler.
President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo met four representatives of the fishermen, four district heads from the area where the fishermen are based and a city mayor.
The meeting ended up with an agreement that the government will not revoke its 2015 ministerial regulation banning the use of cantrang and other fishing trawlers.
The agreement also said fishermen who have registered their boats to the ministry are allowed to use cantrang until they are given a replacement.
"We're giving the fishermen more time... we're no longer giving them a set deadline to replace their cantrang," Jokowi said in a statement.
After the meeting in the palace, Minister Susi walked outside to talk to the other protesters from a podium, demanding them to follow the government decision.
"Please respect the decision. I don’t want to see any more boats using cantrang and no more unregistered boats," Susi told the protesters.
"All boats equipped with cantrang have to be remeasured and will only be allowed to operate off the northern coast of Java,”
The ministry distributed more than 7,500 new fishing equipment to fishermen whose boats were in the "under 10 tons" category last year, in a bid to promote sustainable fishing habits among small-scale fishermen.
Nevertheless, cantrang had remained popular with fishermen all over Java.