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EXCLUSIVE – How Indonesia uses technology to protect its waters and fishing industry

EXCLUSIVE – How Indonesia uses technology to protect its waters and fishing industry

Indonesia is the world’s largest
archipelagic state with over 10,000 islands. Nearly 70% of the total area of
Indonesia lies next to the sea, giving it the second longest coastline in the
world. On top of that, given the importance of the fishing industry to its
economy, maritime affairs are vital to the country.

Earlier at
the Indonesia
OpenGov Leadership Forum 2018
held in Jakarta, the Ministry of Marine Affairs and Fisheries (MMAF) was recognised
for its innovative and disruptive use of technology.

Mr Rifky Effendi Hardijanto, Secretary General of the Ministry of Marine Affairs and Fisheries, Indonesia

Earlier
this year
,
it was reported that Indonesia is amid preparations for
an integrated system to tackle IUU fishing. The new integrated system will
first be tested in the Natuna Sea to strengthen patrolling efforts in the
area by stationing a tanker to refuel patrol vessels.

Instead of having patrol vessels travel
back and forth for refuelling, the standby tanker will allow patrol vessels to
lengthen their missions from only a few days to a month. This will help
authorities to increase efficiency of patrolling missions at a reduced cost.

OpenGov
had the privilege to interview Mr Rifky Effendi Hardijanto, Secretary General
of the Ministry of Marine Affairs and Fisheries, to find out more about the
Ministry’s approach to tackle IUU fishing and the associated illegal activities
and the role of technology in the Ministry’s efforts to protect Indonesia’s
interest in marine affairs and fisheries.

Indonesia’s ongoing battle against IUU
fishing

Indonesia
has shown great commitment in combating IUU fishing and its associated illegal
activities. When asked about the country’s approach to curb IUU fishing, Secretary General Mr Hardijanto shared with OpenGov the country’s
journey and the role of
digital technology in the Ministry’s work.

Upholding sovereignty
through surveillance and law enforcement

According
to Mr Hardijanto, upholding the country’s sovereignty has been a key focus of
MMAF. The ability to tackle illegal fishing relies heavily on the country’s
ability to protect its waters. As such, in 2014 and 2015, MMAF made great
efforts to strengthen its surveillance fleets. With boosted surveillance
capabilities, it helped the authorities to identify where the perpetrators of
IUU fishing were operating.

“The next
step is law enforcement,” Mr Hardijianto said.

Given the
nature of illegal fishing, law enforcement would require international
co-ordination and collective effort. According to Mr Hardijianto, Minister Susi
Pudjiastuti met with Ambassadors of six neighboring countries to discuss the undesirable
consequences of illegal fishing and reiterated Indonesia’s commitment to protect
its waters through what is sometimes called “sinking the vessels” policy.

“Minister
Susi gained full support from President Joko Widodo to establish a Task Force
for combating Illegal Fishing, also known as Task Force 115. Minister Susi was
then appointed as the Commander for Task Force 115, assisted by the Deputy
Naval Staff as Vice Commander for daily operation,” he added.

Comprised
of the MMAF, the Navy, the Water Police and Coast Guard under Indonesian
National Police and the Attorney General’s Office among others, the
multi-agency Task Force 115 was created to
mobilise administrative, legal and maritime law enforcement (MLE) tools within the
Indonesian Government to combat the threat of illegal fishing and associated
crimes.

“Two third
of our territory is covered by waters. If the Ministry of Marine Affairs and
Fisheries does the surveillance alone, I do not think it will be enough. Hence,
we need synergy among different agencies or even among countries,” he
explained.

“This Task
Force is expected to carry on sinking vessels policy to give a deterrent effect,”
he said.

Fostering
international cooperation against IUU fishing

In 2016, MMAF’s
focus remained on maintaining its sovereignty through its “sinking vessels”
policy. In addition, Minister Susi actively participated in various
international fora to foster international cooperation on maritime sovereignty
and surveillance. Such international fora include the World Economic Forum (WEF), the Our
Ocean Conference, the Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice (CCPCJ)
and many others.

“A key
objective of Minister Susi’s effort to engage in international fora is to gain
international support, especially in categorising IUU Fishing as a
transnational organised crime,” said Secretary General.

In 2017, Indonesia stepped forward as the first nation in the world to publicly
share Vessel
Monitoring System data
in a publicly-available
data platform
, Global Fishing Watch (GFW).

According
to the GFW’s press
release
, the lack of
transparency in the fishing industry hinders informed resource management
decisions, resulting in rampant Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU)
fishing and encourages other associated illegal activities such as drug
and human trafficking.

“The
outcome of this collaboration is a surveillance system that has the capability
to analyse combined data from Vessel Monitoring System and Automatic
Identification System. The platform displays data and information of the
vessels, among others vessel identity, location, speed, and direction, which
enable public to monitor illegal fishing activity,” he added.

Transparency
through the public exchange of VMS data would not only assist countries in
better monitoring their territorial waters, but also facilitate cooperative
regional surveillance and enforcement. In this regard, Minister of Marine
Affairs and Fisheries Susi Pudjiastuti also called on all coastal nations to
follow Indonesia’s example. 

From sovereignty to
sustainability

According
to Mr Hardijianto, MMAF has forged partnership with the UK Space Agency and a
British satellite company to support surveillance activities. The cooperation aims
to enhance the safety, productivity and food security of Indonesian fishers and
their communities by improving the effectiveness and process of monitoring and
enforcement efforts of regulators through technology.

“This
cooperation is highly beneficial for Indonesia, particularly for marine and
fisheries resources surveillance. The historical data transmitted by the
satellite could be analysed and utilised as preliminary basis in performing
intercept operation,” he explained.

“As the
outcome of maintaining sovereignty and surveillance, fish stocks rose and
fisherman catches increased,” he said.

As the
efforts of MMFA and the Task Force 115 began to pay off, MMAF’s began to focus
more on sustainability. In 2017, the Ministry made efforts to promote
sustainable development of the fisheries industry by supporting fishermen with more
environmental friendly fishing gears and ensuring distribution flow.

At the same
time, MMAF increased its focus on the aquaculture sector, such as developing offshore
floating net cages and the use of biofloc [1]
technology in catfish culturing. The Ministry also plays a role in educating
the public about sustainable seafood consumption.

Biofloc

To assist
in the documentation process of developments on outer islands as a basis for
exporting Indonesia’s fisheries products, the Ministry also uses drones to
monitor the construction progress, from ground breaking to completion.

 “In 2018, sustainability remains our focus,”
said Mr Hardijianto.

This year, MMAF
will continue to: (1) facilitate local fishermen to change their fishing gear
by providing free and timely licensing facilities and (2) support aquaculture
programs such as catfish culture by biofloc and off shore floating net cage.

Furthermore,
Mr Hardijianto stated that Indonesia remains committed to its fight against IUU
fishing through active participation in international fora and engagements with
related international institutions or agencies.

Using technology to
engage the fishing community

According
to Mr Hardijianto, the Ministry uses technology and social media to facilitate citizen
engagement and collect public feedback.

“Stakeholders,
especially fishers and fish farmers, can also use social media to inform the
ministry about their needs in conducting fisheries-related activities,” he
said.

In
addition, MMFA is encouraging fishers to use its online portals, such as the
license portal, to access public service.

“With
digital transformation, everything turns faster and more efficient. In addition
to the development of information technology, the Ministry is now digitialising
our licensing services for fisheries business.”

[1] Biofloc technology is based on recycling of
waste nutrients, in particular nitrogen, into microbial biomass that can be
used in situ by
the cultured animals or be harvested and processed into feed ingredients. It is
an eco-friendly technology which boosts productivity, while reducing
environmental impact.

All images are provided by the Ministry of Marine Affairs and Fisheries.