November 21 marks the National Fish Day or Harkanans.
First established in 2014, Harkanans has now entered its seventh year.
It has become a time for the nation to reflect on its maritime wealth and fishery potential, which has yet to be fully optimized. But optimizing Indonesia’s vast potential of its fisheries must start from the upstream and into the downstream.
Sustainable seafood standards group the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) recently invited Jakarta Globe photojournalist Yudha Baskoro to visit Waepure Village, Air Buaya District, Buru Regency, Maluku Province.
During the visit, the Globe had the opportunity to take a closer look at the ecolabel certification by the London-based NGO, which seeks to improve the fishermen’s welfare, while also championing fair and sustainable fisheries.
Since 2019, MSC has helped to connect fishermen, suppliers, buyers and decision makers.
The MSC ecolabel allows the yellowfin tuna caught by the Waepure’s fishermen to be exported by Harta Samudra — the only tuna-processing factory and exporter in Buru Island.
Buying the yellowfin tuna is the seafood supplier Anova Food through its main partner Coral Triangle Processors. The latter is a fair trade-certified tuna processing company in America.
“With the certification from MSC, we [Harta Samudra] have learned a lot. From an economic point of view, profit must be sustainable. For companies, if they are profitable, they must be responsible. So the sea must be maintained so that there are still plenty of fish,” Harta Samudra’s director Robert Djuanda said.
As the head of a tuna exporting company, he considers that sustainable fisheries are the same as sustainable profits.
The MSC has also teamed up with the Maluku Provincial Marine and Fisheries Department — under the leadership of Dr. Abdul Haris, S.Pi, M.Si— on sustainable fisheries programs in the province.
In practice, the government will provide assistance to yellowfin tuna fishermen and hold regular meetings twice a year. This is part of the government’s commitment with its partners to support small-scale fisheries.
“The fishermen have always to be accompanied and evaluated, so they do not get into trouble in the field. One minor problem can prompt them to carry out dangerous practices that can harm the environment. For instance, going fishing on illegal boats,” Abdul Harris said in an interview at his office earlier this month.
MSC’s certification program has helped improve the tuna catch data.
Every data now gets recorded in the iFish application which was first initiated by the Masyarakat dan Perikanan Indonesia (MDPI). This data is available for use by academics and stakeholders.
The MSC certification recognizes that a fishery has passed various international standard feasibility tests. Getting MSC’s nod of approval also proves that the Indonesian capture fisheries sector is able to compete with the highest standards in the global market for sustainable fisheries.
The program brings ample positive benefits to the Maluku and Indonesia’s tuna fisheries. Among others is a managed consumer price index, clear traceability, and qualified to be consumed.
With this certification program, the MSC indirectly contributes to optimizing Indonesian fisheries' potential by maintaining the fish quality from the sea and into the table.