Coordinating Minister of Maritime Affairs Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan has denied recommending foreign investment in Indonesia’s commercial fishing industry. No decision has been made on this issue and options are currently being explored.
As Luhut has not discussed this matter, including the Natuna Sea region, with Maritime and Fisheries Minister Susi Pudjiastuti, he was shocked to hear the news that Susi would resign if foreigners were to be allowed to invest in Indonesia’s commercial fishing industry.
“No. We have not discussed foreign investment (in the commercial fishing industry) yet,” Luhut said in his office on Friday (5/8). “That’s why I was surprised to hear the news. We’re still reviewing options.” (Read: Indonesia’s Fisheries Sector Causes Tension Between Luhut and Susi).
Luhut confirmed that President Joko Widodo had instructed him to immediately open up the fish market in Natuna. This will mean that a huge commercial fishery industry is needed to explore the fisheries potential in the region. The government is currently exploring options on how to develop this industry.
“The President instructed us to immediately establish a fish market in Natuna. If there is a fish market in Natuna, which means fish must be caught there as well. We’re exploring how to do this,” said Luhut. (Read: Government to Increase Budget for Sea Toll Project).
However, he denied that the government had opted to recommend that foreigners invest in the commercial fishing industry. The government has not gathered enough data on this matter, especially data on the ability of Indonesia’s local sector to explore Natuna’s maritime treasures.
The government will need up to two weeks to complete this data. After it has gathered and reviewed the data, Luhut will make a decision on the best option for implementing the President’s instruction.
In her home last Thursday (4/8), Maritime and Fisheries Minister Susi Pudjiastuti said the fisheries sector is on the Negative Investment List (DNI). The list states foreigners are strictly prohibited from catching fish in Indonesia’s waters. This sector is only open to domestic investors, according to Presidential Regulation No. 44/ 2016. Foreigners are only allowed to invest in the processing of fishery products.
“Foreigners are welcome to (invest in) the processing, marketing, technology, shipyard sectors of this industry,” said Susi.
She said the President is also committed to prohibiting foreigners from catching fish in Indonesia’s waters. The government will also encourage the development of maritime technology, including vessels for catching fish, to boost Indonesia’s competitiveness in the industry considering foreigners will not have a hand in this sector.
Susi added that she would resign from her post in the cabinet if the Coordinating Maritime Affairs Ministry intends to revise the Negative Investment List. “If foreigners are given the chance to invest in fish capture, I will be ready to resign,” she said. “We must be disciplined about reforming the fisheries sector for the sake of sustainability.”
Previously, Special Staff to the Coordinating Maritime Affairs Minister Yudhi Sadewa said his ministry will open up opportunities for foreigners to invest in the fish capture business because the nation’s capacity has yet to be optimised. (Read: Jokowi: Only 8.9 Percent of Fishery Potential in Natuna Has Been Explored).
As published by bisnis.com, Yudhi argued that there have been fewer cases of illegal fishing in the ocean. As a result, there is a huge abundance of fish. “If we can’t catch them (the fish), it would be a waste. We’re thinking about how to maximise the potential,” said Yudhi.