Sat, Jan 19, 2019 - Page 9 News List

‘One fish at a time’: Indonesia’s tuna revival

By Hannah Summers  /  The Guardian

Indonesia produces more tuna than any other country in the world, with total landings of more than 620,000 tonnes in 2014, according to the latest data published by the Pew Charitable Trusts.

The majority of tuna landed worldwide is taken by fishing vessels using large purse-seine nets to encircle schools of fish, primarily targeting skipjack and yellowfin tuna.

While purse seiners operating in the Indonesian economic zone are responsible for the biggest catches, their environmental impact is much greater than pole-and-line fisheries, which account for 50,000 tonnes a year, according to government estimates.

“The purse seiners are responsible for a higher bycatch and are not as well regulated as what we refer to as the one-by-one tuna fisheries,” said Martin Purves, managing director of UK-based charity the International Pole & Line Foundation (IPNLF), which has supported fisheries in Indonesia and worldwide.

“Our philosophy of one hook, one line, one fish at a time — using pole and line, handline or troll line behind the boat — is recognized as being the most sustainable model,” he said.

The IPNLF this week released a film about sustainable tuna fishing. Following its work with PT Crac, the organization is supporting a further six fisheries in Indonesia to help them achieve MSC certification by the middle of next year.

“We have had support from 12 of our supply chain members, which have signed a joint letter urging fisheries they will switch from any non-MSC tuna to one-by-one tuna from those fisheries in Indonesia reaching MSC certification. That is quite a strong commitment from the market,” Purves said.

In the past, Indonesia has been seen as a country with lots of small vessels operating without proper management, but steps taken by the Ministry of Maritime Affairs and Fisheries (MMAF) have started to bear fruit, Purves said.

“The fisheries minister Susi Pudjiastuti has taken a worldwide lead in terms of addressing illegal fishing in a country that has had major issues in this area,” he said. “A lot of it has been quite public campaigns where vessels have been confiscated or set alight at sea and bombed. But in addition to publicity-grabbing efforts there has been a lot done to improve the legislative framework and great work on transparency.”

Indonesia was the first country in the world to publicly share the positions of its fishing fleets on the public online platform Global Fishing Watch, which uses satellite technology to give real-time tracking information for 70,000 of the world’s largest fishing boats.

In 2014, the MMAF introduced a raft of changes to manage Indonesia’s marine resources, including banning fishing using foreign capital and the use of destructive fishing gear, including trawl nets.

MMAF Deputy Director Trian Yunanda said the policies had led to increased fish stocks and improvement in the prosperity of fishermen and coastal communities, according to figures for 2016 and 2017.

“The data shows that our traditional and small-scale fisheries have benefited, and their catch has doubled, from the implemented policy,” Yunanda said.

“The MSC certification of PT Crac has motivated other tuna fisheries in Indonesia to develop fish improvement projects to address their negative environmental impacts and look at ways to improve,” he added.

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