Indonesia assesses health of fish stocks to improve sustainable planning | News | Eco-Business


Indonesia assesses populations of commercially valuable fish in all of its waters with the aim of improving the sustainable management of one of the world’s largest fisheries.

The country’s Ministry of Fisheries is carrying out population health assessments in the archipelago’s 11 fishing areas. The results should help decision makers identify areas where fish populations are healthy, recovering or overexploited.

Indonesia is the second largest producer of marine catch, after China, harvesting 84.4 million metric tonnes of seafood in 2018, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO ). The country’s waters are home to some of the highest levels of marine biodiversity in the world, and the fishing industry employs around 12 million Indonesians.

“This assessment is a very crucial first step in making many subsequent decisions,” Annastasia Rita Tisiana, head of the ministry’s implementation work unit, said in a webinar on July 27.

Annastasia said analyzing the health of fish stocks would help the ministry decide which fishing areas are allowed for large-scale and traditional fishing, and which areas to protect for conservation due to overfishing. She added that the data would determine the catch quotas for each type of fish, the number of boats and the types of gear allowed to operate in each fishing area.

Annastasia said her team had collected and verified data over the past three months, but did not say when they expected to complete their assessment and publish their findings.

“The data collection was not easy because there are differences between the data and it is stored everywhere,” she said.

However, Annastasia said the Ministry of Fisheries is already creating a new management model to be tested in several fishing areas. She said the proposal was to designate certain areas as fishing industry and nursery areas.

“We will try to manage some fishing areas using our concept of ‘measured capture fisheries’,” Annastasia said.

The concept also aims to bridge the wealth disparity between fishing communities across Indonesia, said Muhammad Zaini, head of the Ministry of Marine Capture Fisheries. Industry observers note that the fishing industry in western Indonesia is much more developed than in eastern Indonesia, yet many boats often operate in these latter waters. Much of the catch from all over Indonesia is still landed in ports on the main western island of Java Island.

Zaini cited the example of boats from the north coast of Java, home to the country’s largest fleet, going east to fish in the Arafura Sea, the waters between New Guinea and Australia, then landing their catch in Java. Zaini also urged traditional and small-scale fishermen to join operators of larger fishing boats to help develop the country’s fishing industry.

The government has worked for several years to increase fish stocks, mainly under the leadership of the former Minister of Fisheries Susi Pudjiastuti, in office from 2014 to 2019. In 2016, the National Commission for Research on Fishery Resources ( Komnas Kajiskan) reported that Indonesian fishing grounds were either overexploited or fully exploited. In 2018, official estimates of the country’s total fish stocks showed a 5% increase from the previous two years, which fisheries experts largely attributed to Susi’s efforts to prevent illegal foreign fishing vessels from ditching. ‘enter the waters of the land.

“We are trying to resolve this disparity in the fishing industry with this measured fishing concept,” Zaini said.

This story was published with permission from Mongabay.com.

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