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KORAL Rebuffing Trawl in Natuna-Anambas

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Illustration of fishing boats with cantrang (seine-nets) is operated in the ocean. (Image: Shutterstock)

The Coalition of Civil Society for Sustainable Fisheries and Maritime (KORAL) called Minister of Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Edhy Prabowo to ban the use of trawl. KORAL considered that the government policy allowing the use of trawl  will harm small fisherman. The statement was addressed by KORAL in its press release.

Trawl is not only harmful to small fisherman but also destroys ocean ecosystem. The use of trawl can clear away all fish in such a way that it will drastically cut down the catches for traditional fisherman.

“Apprehension of all fishermen of all regions during the economic downturn is seemingly unheard and never be the government’s priority but investment. The government’s promise for fisherman welfare seems to only side with major corporation,” said Safran Yusri who represents KORAL.

The existence of trawler boats has caused various problems in some locations, particularly those operating on the coastal areas. The operations of trawler boats have violated the Regulation of Minister of Maritime Affairs and Fisheries No. 71/2016 on Fishing Track and Placement of Fishing Tool on the Fishing Management Areas of the Republic of Indonesia. KORAL observed that the permit given to trawler boat operation has obviously been opposing the regulation here. 

Fishing using trawler boat in the Anambas coastal areas, for instance, has made local fishermen who mostly utilize fishing rod suffer from significant losses. The fishing rod is deemed eco-friendly tool with demersal fish as the main catch.

“When local fisherman operation utilizes eco-friendly fishing tools, the government on contrary sides with major industry by giving permit to destroy ocean through exploitation for the sake of investment,” said Suhana, KORAL’s maritime and fisheries researcher. 

The giant trawl net does not only sweep away fish but also destroys coral reefs as the fish habitat. This is what makes traditional fisherman into hardship of fishing. Consequently, fishermen in Anambas should go faraway trip to catch fish. But in fact they only get a lesser amount of catch. If it remains unsolved, this would lead to far higher losses for the traditional fishermen in Anambas. It is also possible that the issue could spark conflict among fishermen who use fishing rod and those with trawl operating in Natuna.

Dedi Syahputra, the Secretary of Indonesian Fishermen Association (HNSI) of Anambas Islands Regency, called the regional government to fight for Anambas fishermen aspiration related to trawl operation due to the looming economic losses suffered by local fishermen. Deployment of trawler boats to Natuna Sea is part of the National Action Plan on SKPT Fisheries Industry Acceleration and Optimization at small islets and Natuna border as agreed in Palembang on January 29, 2020. Dedi explained that the agreement was forcibly imposed despite the fact that HNSI and Anambas Fishermen Alliance declined to sign the deal during the meeting. 

The result of the meeting in Palembang was followed up by a Memorandum of Understanding on Synergy of Development Planning and Implementation involving the Ministry of Maritime Affairs and Fisheries and the Provincial Governments of Kepulauan Riau and Central Java. The MoU agreed that all parties are obliged to conduct an evaluation of the implementation of MoU every three month. However, Dedi said that there has so far no evaluation related to the deployment of trawler boat to Natuna that involves fishermen in Anambas. 

In fact, the number of trawler boats operating in Natuna has thus far been increasing. In Siantan Timur Sub-district, Anambas fishermen identified 27 trawler boats above 60 GT in size. There are also other trawler boats identified in other sub-district. 

“Currently there are more than 700 fishermen of Anambas-Natuna Regency who suffer from economic losses due to trawl operation. We have no idea of whom we could address this issue but to the regional government,” said Dedi. 

Dedi also expressed his concern if only this issue is unresolved. His fate and hundreds of traditional fishermen in Anambas-Natuna will be getting down in the dump.

“Traditional fishermen run out of fish. We are coping with difficult situation as we are less possibly to compete against the trawler boats,” added Dedi.

Coalition of Civil Society for Sustainable Fisheries and Maritime (KORAL) consists of: IOJI (Indonesia Ocean Justice Initiative), Pandu Laut Nusantara, EcoNusa, KIARA, WALHI, Greenpeace Indonesia, ICEL (Indonesian Center of for Environmental Law), Destructive Fishing Watch (DFW), Yayasan Terangi, and EcoNusa Foundation.

KORAL supports the petitions of HNSI of Natuna-Anambas Regency that read as follow:

  • Reject the government plan to legalize fishing using trawl.
  • Urge to stop trawler from operating at Anambas-Natuna Island Regency as mandated by the Regulation of Minister of Maritime Affairs and Fisheries No. 71/2016 on Fishing Track and Placement of Fishing Tool on the Fishing Management Areas of the Republic of Indonesia.
  • Urge the Government of Kepulauan Anambas Regency and Kepulauan Riau Province to address the rebuff of trawl at the sea territory of Kepulauan Anambas-Natuna Regency to the Ministry of Maritime Affairs and Fisheries of the Republic of Indonesia.
  • Enforce discipline of any violation of fishing zone for trawler boat at the sea territory of Kepulauan Anambas-Natuna Regency. 
  • Urge the Government of Kepulauan Anambas Regency to resolve the problem faced by fishermen seriously. 

Reviewed by: Wiro Wirandi, Ocean Program Manager EcoNusa Foundation

Editor: Leo Wahyudi

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