The government is attempting to speed up the development of the national fisheries sector. President Joko Widodo (Jokowi) has issued Presidential Instruction (Inpres) No. 7/ 2016, which includes an instruction for Maritime Fisheries Minister Susi Pudjiastuti to review regulations that are holding back the growth of the fisheries sector.
The Inpres inked by Jokowi last Monday (22/8) contains instructions for four coordinating ministers, 12 ministers, the National Armed Forces (TNI) Commander in Chief, the National Chief of Police, the Attorney General, four government agency heads and governors/ district heads to take necessary action, according to their respective authority, to accelerate the development of the national fisheries industry.
Some of the President’s instructions were to increase the number of caught fish and increase the production of cultivated and processed fish; improve the fishery product distribution and logistics system; accelerate the structural management of marine space and the mapping of fishery management areas; and accelerate the permit process for the fisheries industry.
The President also gave specific instructions to 11 ministers, the National Armed Forces (TNI) Commander in Chief, and the head of the Investment Coordinating Board (BKPM). However, the interesting part was his instruction for Minister Susi. (Read: Susi Accuses Officials/ Law Enforces Behind Proposal to Invite Foreign Fishermen)
First, the President instructed Minister Susi to evaluate regulations that hamper the development of domestic capture fisheries, aquaculture, processing and marketing, as well as fisheries exports and salt evaporation plants.
He also instructed her to prepare a roadmap for the fisheries industry, increase the production volume of capture fisheries and aquaculture, and streamline the permit process and delegate authority through one-stop service centres (PTSP). The final instruction was to accelerate the issue of permits for the capture, processing, transportation and marketing and distribution of fish.
However, the President did not specify which regulations need to be reviewed. He explicitly asked four of his coordinating ministers to submit reports on their implementation of this Presidential Instruction at least once every six months or when necessary.(Read: Indonesia’s Fish Heaven, the Source of Luhut-Susi Tension)
Not long after she assumed the position of Minister of Maritime Affairs in October 2014, Susi issued a regulation banning mid-sea trans-shipment and declaring a moratorium on permits for former foreign fishing vessels. This policy sparked disagreement because while it restored the nation’s ocean fish supply, it lowered the revenue of businesses.
Recently, Vice President Jusuf Kalla asked Susi to review her moratorium on former foreign fishing vessels and trans-shipment because it had allegedly resulted in thousands of vessel and fish factory workers being unemployed.
The latest row, however, was sparked by Coordinating Maritime Affairs Minister Luhut Binsar Panjaitan, who claimed the government is reviewing opportunities to improve the national fisheries industry. He denied submitting a recommendation that would allow foreigners to invest in the fish capture industry. “No. We have not discussed foreign investment,” he said on 5 August. (Read: Luhut Denies Recommending Foreign Investment in Indonesia’s Fish Capture Industry)
He confirmed that Widodo had instructed him to immediately open a fish market in Natuna. Therefore, a huge fish catching industry would be required to explore the fishery potential in the region. The government is currently studying various options for developing the industry there.
“The President instructed me to establish a fish market in Natuna. If there’s a fish market, then that means fish must be caught. We’re looking for a way to do this,” said Luhut.