Overcoming Resistance to Save Our Fish and Oceans

24 October 2017

It is an undeniable fact that about 70% of the Earth’s surface is covered with water, predominantly by the oceans, and life itself began out of the deep blue sea. From its violent and biblical history, Earth’s oceans have been the main connector for Earth’s civilisations, it serves as an integral part to the lives of almost all sentient beings, and it’s also responsible for the formation of our weather and climate patterns. Yet 4.5 billion years later, Earth’s most dominant creature, the human race, appears to have mostly turn its back to its original cradle of life, the oceans. Overfishing, coral bleaching, species extinction, ocean pollution, and garbage patches have made headlines over the course of our modern history only to be met with little to no attention. One of the worst offenders of the great oceanic mess that we face today came from the largest archipelagic nation in the world, Indonesia.

According to Ocean Conservancy, a non-profit organisation based in Washington D.C., roughly 8 million metric tons of plastics enter our ocean every year, where Indonesia is ranked second as the top contributor to plastic pollution in the ocean, beating the Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam, and are only stopped from taking the first place by China. To make matters worse, decades of weak maritime enforcement has cost the country billions of US$ through IUU fishing, which has only been more strongly addressed by the Jokowi administration.

 But it’s not all sunshine and rainbow just yet, in the spirit to rejuvenate our fishery sector, and to protect the fragile maritime environment, the Indonesian government is facing resistance to ban destructive fishing methods and equipments from a group of fishermen. Through Ministerial Regulation No. 2/2015 (Permen No.2/2015) Minister Susi Pudjiastuti wishes to ban the use of trawls and seine nets as the government sees these equipments as environmentally destructive.

Yet, with strong resistance upon the regulation, President Jokowi has decided to delay the implementation of the regulation until December 2017. The worst of all is the politicisation of these issues by several figures, notably by Muhaimin Iskandar of PKB who seems to be using these issues as a platform for his own political gain.

I do not deny or disagree that banning the use of several fishing equipments that have been so commonly use will lead to a loss of income. However unlike in previous administrations, the current government has introduced legal regulations that would help to alleviate the lives of Indonesian fishermen. Among that is the Law No. 7/2016 (Undang-undang No.7/2016) on the protection and empowerment of fishermen and salt farmers, which gives an obligation of the central and local government to provide education, incentives, insurance, and protection for the liveli....

Gilang Kembara

Gilang Kembara was born on March 1992, in Jakarta, Indonesia. He finished his undergraduate studies at the University of Birmingham, ...