Minister Susi Won’t Back Down on Nets Ban

BY :DAMIANA NINGSIH

MARCH 13, 2015

Jakarta. Despite massive protests, Fisheries and Maritime Affairs Minister Susi Pudjiastuti said her office would not back down on banning the use of trawls and seine nets.

Speaking in Jakarta on Friday, Susi said local authorities must implement the regulation accordingly and that she would retract her support from areas should local government prove unhelpful.

“This policy is simply for the sovereignty, sustainability and distribution of fisheries in our country. And it is also for good deeds. The government will do whatever it takes to ensure the implementation of this policy,” Susi said. “So I will not back down from the regulation on trawling and also from other policies.”

The minister has been the target of massive protests from fishermen in several regions, including West Java, East Java, Bali and West Nusa Tenggara.

The fishermen have continued to speak out against the ban, conducting rallies in their respective regions, as well as at her office.

They have rejected ecological concerns cited by Susi, arguing that it is snuffing out their livelihoods, with many still relying heavily on the now banned equipment to catch fish. Fishermen also protested against another new regulation restricting lobster and crab catches.

The regulation stipulates that only lobsters over eight centimeters in length, crabs measuring more than 15 centimeters and flower crabs longer than 10 centimeters can be caught; and that none carrying eggs can be caught. The minister reiterated her stance, saying the policy would ensure sustainable fishing, which would benefit fishermen over the long term.

She also said the bans were necessary because Indonesian fishermen had become overly dependent on unsustainable fishing methods, including the rampant use of trawls, purse seines and even fish bombs.

Susi argued that Indonesian fishermen benefited greatly from other policies, namely curbing illegal poaching activities conducted by foreign boats.

She said that ever since the Illegal, Unregistered and Unreported Fishing Law (IUU) had been implemented, fishermen from several areas have increased hauls.

“If we could decrease illegal activities by say 10 percent, that’s already 30,000 tons a month and that is now enjoyed by our [Indonesian] fisherman,” she said.

Susi said the improvement has attracted the attention of the banking sector such as the Financial Services Authority (OJK) and several banks in the country.

“I’ve met with them and they were enthusiastic. They know fisheries is an important sector. So what I did was real for our fishermen,” Susi said.

She added that this would mean greater access to loans for fishermen.

Sjarief Widjaja, the ministry’s secretary general said Yogyakarta has successfully implemented the zero-trawling policy and that with some adjustment, the fishermen will eventually come around and adopt more sustainable fishing practices.

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