Fishing Unions Line Up Complaints Against Minister Susi in DPR

JANUARY 21, 2015

Jakarta. The reformist line cast by fisheries minister Susi Pudjiastuti met firm resistance on Wednesday after a fishermen's union arrived at Commission IV of the House of Representatives to state their opposition to new regulations.

The fishermen in attendance complained that some of the ministry's new regulations were impacting on their livelihoods. The new limit on catch size was one complaint, they said.

"We from the Traditional Fishermen's Union are complaining about the prohibition to catch pregnant crabs, the restriction on catch size and others. Minister Susi doesn't understand that the fishermen are affected by the regulation," Kajidin, the head of the union, said on Wednesday during a meeting with Commission IV at the parliament building.

The ministry has also set a new regulation that gives a fuel subsidy only to boats under 30 gross tons. The union says the restriction could shut down hundreds of smaller operators.

"It really makes thing difficult for us," Kajidin said. "It's already hard to generate income from fishing, now there are such rules."

Bambang, a spokesman for the United Fishermen's Front, said that Susi might be popular among the general public, but fishermen were struggling to maintain profitability.

"These policies are affecting our life in a negative way," he said. "I'm sorry but we suggest the president remove this minister. We've asked her to talk with us, but she has not given us the opportunity to do so."

Commission IV member Ono Surono said that the commission was urging President Joko Widodo's administration to review the ministry's regulations affecting small fishermen.

"The government should review the effect of those ministerial regulations comprehensively," Ono said. "If the regulations create new problems, then they should be evaluated."