Indonesia aims for sustainable fish farming with ‘aquaculture villages’


  • Indonesia plans to have a network of 136 dedicated aquaculture villages by the end of this year.
  • The initiative is part of the government’s efforts to boost exports of its world famous aquaculture products, namely shrimp, lobster, crab and seaweed.
  • Experts have welcomed the plan, but say it needs to be backed by sound environmental planning, including avoiding the clearing of mangrove forests and ensuring proper waste management.
  • Indonesia is a leading exporter of farmed seafood, but fish farming in the country has long come at the expense of carbon-rich mangrove forests and other important coastal ecosystems.

DENPASAR/JAKARTA – The Indonesian government plans to have a network of dozens of villages with aquaculture farms by the end of the year, in a bid to boost post-pandemic economic recovery by meeting global demand for farmed seafood.

The Indonesian Fisheries Ministry said in December that it had established six such so-called aquaculture villages and would add 130 by the end of 2022. The villages will grow high-value aquaculture products, including shrimp, lobster, crab and seaweed.

“Increasing the production of commodities for export comes first,” TB Haeru Rahayu, director general of aquaculture fisheries at the ministry, told an online event. He added that the program would strengthen the country’s food security and create new jobs.

A shrimp farm being revitalized in the province of Aceh on the island of Sumatra. Image courtesy of the Indonesian Ministry of Maritime Affairs and Fisheries.

At the start of his second term in 2019, President Joko Widodo directed the Ministry of Fisheries to boost the country’s aquaculture productivity. Global aquaculture production increased by 527% between 1990 and 2018, with Indonesia being one of the world’s leading producers. The country’s aquaculture production in the third quarter of 2021 was 12.25 million metric tons, an increase of 6% compared to the same period in 2020. The aquaculture sector contributed the equivalent of 1.94 million in state non-tax revenue for the year through November 2021, well above the target figure of $1.39 million, according to the department.

While Indonesia is one of the world’s leading exporters of frozen saltwater prawns, it lags behind its neighbors in exports of freshwater prawns and fresh, salted or smoked prawns. Some of its major export species include the Asian tiger prawn (Monodon Penea) and white leg shrimp (Litopenaeus vannamei).

Experts have welcomed the government’s efforts to boost the aquaculture sector, but say it must ensure sustainable environmental planning, especially in terms of land clearing and waste management for farms.

The development of aquaculture farms in Indonesia has typically involved clearing carbon-rich mangrove forests to build shrimp and fish ponds, said Abdul Halim, executive director of the Center for Marine Studies for Humanity. Over the past three decades, Indonesia has lost nearly half of its mangrove area, according to the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR). In 2021, President Widodo set an ambitious goal of replanting mangroves on 600,000 hectares (1.5 million acres) of degraded coastline by 2024.

Abdul said the government must also be able to address the waste management issues long associated with fish farms, which typically pump waste into the sea or lakes. The Ministry of Planning announced in 2019 that 15 lakes were in “critical” condition due to environmental degradation, mainly caused by human activities, such as pollution, logging and destructive fishing practices. . Recurrent mass fish kills are frequently reported events in some of the lakes.

Circular shrimp ponds are increasingly used by small farmers and entrepreneurs in Indonesia. Image courtesy of the Indonesian Ministry of Maritime Affairs and Fisheries.

Abdi Suhufan, national coordinator of the NGO Destructive Fishing Watch (DFW) Indonesia, said the government must address fundamental challenges facing the country’s aquaculture sector, such as having a detailed map of farms, a clearly defined status for the land and good water management. .

Revitalizing the shrimp farming industry has been an ongoing government priority for years, with a focus on preventing deforestation of mangroves. However, there has been little to no progress on this front, Abdi said.

“There needs to be reformative change in the aquaculture sector if it is to meet productivity targets,” he said.

Farmed shrimp. Image courtesy of the Indonesian Ministry of Maritime Affairs and Fisheries.

This story was reported by the Indonesian team at Mongabay and first published here and here on our Indonesian site on December 9, 2021 and January 4, 2022.

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Aquaculture, Coastal ecosystems, Conservation, Deforestation, Environment, Environmental policy, Fish, Pisciculture, Fishing, Fisheries, Freshwater ecosystems, Freshwater fish, Governance, Green, Lakes, Land use change, Mangroves, Restoration , Sedimentation, Trade, Wetlands

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