Blue Ecomic Implementation Not Optimum

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Marine and fisheries resources are expected to become source of sustainable income commonly called blue economy. 

Implementation of blue economy in Indonesia faces some challenges so the expected potentials of marine and fisheries could hardly have optimum benefit. Without improvement and cooperation among ministries, institutions, and civil societies involvement, the target of blue economy could potentially destroy the resources of marine and fisheries in Indonesia.

“What could be benefited from blue economy? We worry if the resources we can use have been in critical condition,” said Wahyu Isroni, Airlangga University’s School of Fishery lecturer, on the virtual and offline Sail to Campus (STC) discussion at Airlangga University titled “Breaking through Blue Economy through Sustainable Ocean Innovation” on Thursday 7 April 2022. 

Blue economy is expected to be the basis of new sustainable economy in Indonesia in the future. With the two third size of water in this country the economic potential of marine and fisheries is expectedly to serve as the new economic growth particularly as the crucial element for the economic recovery following the slowdown due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Read also: Measured Fishing Policy Overlooking Ecosystem and Fishers Welfare

The Ministry of National Development (Bappenas) estimated that blue economy potential in Indonesia is worth Rp1.9 trillion. The potential of economic growth here is expected to provide 45 million jobs. Unfortunately the basis of potential estimation here is not on good condition.

Wahyu elaborated that coral in Indonesia is on the worrisome state. Based on the study conducted by the Indonesian Institute of Sciences (LIPI) on 1,067 spots, only 6.56 percent of the corals is in very good condition. Meanwhile, the other 36.19 percent is in poor condition.  

The climate crisis is not controllable yet and thus the destructive fishing has given more pressures to corals. Not only absorbs carbon emission, but coral also serves as the breeding spot for fish and provides ecosystem services.

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In addition to coral, mangrove forests are also in worrisome damage. Despite the fact that Indonesia is known as having the largest mangrove forests, or 3.4 million hectares, in the world, the destruction of mangrove forests here is on the top level globally. The degraded mangrove forests have so far been extended to more than 600,000 hectares.

Dealing with these facts, the government plans to rehabilitate 600,000 hectares of mangrove forests up to 2024. However, as to Wahyu, the rehabilitation of mangrove forests potentially decreases the existing biodiversity. “Every year 52,000 hectares of mangrove have lost. We could replant them but the biodiversity will lose. The recovery (of mangrove) has an SOP but it has not been completed yet today,” he added.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Marine Affairs and Fisheries (MoMAF)’ Ocean Space Management Directorate General Secretary, Hendra Yusran Siry, said that the implementation of blue economy will improve the governance of water space. MoMAF will apply satellite technology in support of fisheries and marine resources management.

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One of the sea management that will change due to the blue economy implementation is the change of catch fisheries into measured fisheries. “Catch fisheries will turn to be measured fisheries. Fisheries monitoring will become an integrated marine and fisheries oversight. Currently we will improve our supervision to the water space,” said Hendra.

The plan for measured fisheries implementation has been rejected by some community elements. The civil society considers that the policy draft here fails to consider the fisheries ecosystem balance and small fishers. It can be viewed from the government plan to provide access for sea utilization through contract system given to foreign corporation and the plan of recruiting fishers as the ship crews.

Deputy Minister of Agrarian and Spatial Planning, Surya Tjandra, said one of the biggest challenge in blue economy implementation is how to provide welfare to the coastal communities at the faraway islands. “Poverty usually lies in these faraway islets,” said Surya.

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Indonesia has 111 far-off islets. As from the figure, 84 islets have been certified. Meanwhile, the uncertified 27 islets consist of 25 forested islets and 2 non-forested islets. As to Surya, the acceleration of far-off islets is very crucial to keep the sovereign territory of Indonesia prior to the implementation of blue economy.

“We want all islets have administration. We want to speed up this process so as to make solid boundary prior to talking blue economy,” Surya said.

He cited an example of Pelampong Island in Riau Island Province with Singapore border. The islet is inhabited by three families and now contracted into one hectare due to abrasion. As to Surya, the position of Pelampong Islet is very vital as it becomes the starting point of Exclusive Economic Zone up to 200 miles of open sea. The natural resources on the sea territory here could be made use by Indonesia.

Editor: Leo Wahyudi & Nur Alfiyah

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