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Responsible Fisheries

  • Date:
    25 Jun 2020
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FAO has just released a report on The State of World Fisheries and Aquaculture 2020 or often abbreviated as SOFIA. This report is published regularly every 2 years and becomes the main reference for policy makers, fisheries managers, academics, NGOs, and other parties related to the condition of world fisheries.

SOFIA 2020 noted that global fishery production is estimated to reach 179 million tonnes in 2018, sourced from 96.4 million tonnes of capture fisheries and 82.1 million tonnes of aquaculture products. There was an increase in fishery production by 5.4% compared to the average production in the last 3 years. This increase was mostly due to the production of marine capture fisheries, which increased from 81.2 million tonnes in 2017 to 84.4 million tonnes in 2018. If further investigated, the increase in marine capture fisheries production was triggered by the production of anchoveta (Engraulis ringens) from Peru and Chile are quite abundant.

The seven largest (top seven) countries that produce capture fisheries in the world are China, Indonesia, Peru, India, Russia, USA, and Vietnam. Production from these seven countries covers 50% of total capture fisheries production. China’s contribution was still the highest at 15%, while Indonesia was the second highest with a contribution of 7%.

China itself has actually issued a policy to reduce its production volume since 2016, resulting in a decrease in production from an average of 13.8 million tons (2015-2017) to 12.7 million tons in 2018. Even though it has decreased, the amount of Chinese production is still remains the highest of any other country since the 1990s.

SOFIA 2020 provides a special note for Indonesia where marine capture fisheries production has increased from 4 million tons in the 2000s to 6.7 million tons in 2018.

The total world fishery production for export in 2018 is 67 million tons with an export value of USD 164 billion. China also listed itself as the country with the highest fishery export value where the contribution was 14%, followed by Norway 7% and Vietnam 5%. Indonesia is not included in the top 10 (top ten) fisheries exporting countries in the world.

SOFIA 2020 also reports that the number of fishing vessels in 2018, from small boats without motorbikes to large industrial scale fishing vessels, is estimated to reach 4.56 million units. This number decreased 2.8% compared to 2016.

In Indonesia, fisheries statistics show that the number of Indonesian fishing vessels in 2016 was 544 thousand, of which 96% were small vessels under 10 GT.

Meanwhile, the number of fish stocks at the biologically sustainable level decreased from 90% in 1974 to 65.8% in 2017. Conversely, the percentage of fish stocks at a biologically unsustainable level increased from 10 % in 1974 to 34.2% in 2017. The largest contribution of fish stocks at unsustainable levels (62.5%) comes from the waters of the Mediterranean Sea and Black Sea.

Indonesia is included in the waters of the Western Central Pacific (Western Central Pacific) and the eastern Indian Ocean (Eastern Indian Ocean) where both of them contribute relatively little to fish stocks at unsustainable levels.


Indonesian Fisheries Management

FAO assigns fisheries statistical codes for the waters of the Western Central Pacific (Western Central Pacific) and the East Indian Ocean with 71 and 57, respectively. The Indonesian government then designated them as Fisheries Management Areas (WPP) where 71 waters were divided into 8 region (711-718) and waters 57 are divided into 3 regions (571-573). Thus, Indonesia has 11 WPP as the basis for fisheries management.

The eleven WPPs have experienced over-exploitation for different fish resource groups based on the Ministerial Decree 50/2017 concerning Potential Estimates, Permitted Catch Amounts, and Fish Resource Utilization Levels in WPP RI.

Fish resources that have been over-exploited means that the catch rate has exceeded the limit of sustainability or exceeded the Maximum Sustainable Yield (MSY).

Lobster, for example, has been over-exploited in WPP 571, WPP 712, WPP 713, WPP 714, WPP 715, and WPP 717. exploited (the catch level is at the MSY level) or even to the moderate level (the catch rate is below the MSY level).

Eliminating over-exploited is one of the main objectives of fisheries management. Ignoring or increasing fishing efforts against over-exploited conditions will lead the fishery to collapse and even the potential for species extinction.

Widodo and Suadi (2008) recorded fisheries in several countries that had experienced collapse, namely cod fishery in Canada, anchoveta fishery in Peru, and herring fishery in the North Sea. This condition has an impact on increasing the number of unemployed, increasing poverty, and other socio-political impacts.

The Australian Government once issued a fisheries industry restructuring policy after it was discovered that fish stocks in Australian waters had been over-exploited. This policy provides incentives for fishermen to ‘stop fishing’, namely by buying back fishing permits. The total costs incurred by the Australian government for this policy amounted to AUD 220 million (Megawanto, 2004).

The occurrence of over-exploitation in some of the world’s fisheries has prompted FAO members to agree on a Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries (CCRF) in 1995. The CCRF regulates international principles and standards on responsible behavior practices to ensure conservation , management and development of effective aquatic resources by taking into account ecosystems and biodiversity.

With this CCRF, countries must prevent overfishing and overfishing and excess fishing capacity, and must implement management measures to ensure that fishing efforts are balanced with the productive capacity of fishery resources and their sustainable use.

Indonesia is one of the countries that agreed to the CCRF since 25 years ago, so that Indonesian fisheries management is expected to be able to apply the principles of responsible fisheries in a disciplined manner. Of course in practice there are many temptations to violate these principles, including overexploitation.

Hopefully Indonesia will go down in history as a nation that resists temptation, so that fishermen will be more prosperous and fish resources will remain sustainable. (Rony Megawanto, Program Director of the KEHATI Foundation)

This article was published on tempo.co