The Indonesian government needs to take concrete steps to increase protection for Indonesian migrant fishing vessel crews who work on fishing vessels abroad. The existence of Law No. 18/2017 concerning the Protection of Indonesian Migrant Workers has not been effective in protecting fishing boat crews. In addition, the central government has not involved the provincial, district/city and village governments to protect migrant ship crews. According to the findings of an investigation conducted by DFW Indonesia, 35 crew members of migrant fishing vessels died between November 2019 and March 2021.
The National Coordinator of Destructive Fishing Watch (DFW) Indonesia, Moh Abdi Suhufan, said that this fact strengthens the notion that fishing vessel crew are extremely vulnerable to risk and exploitation. “According to the findings of our investigation, 35 migrant Indonesian fishing boat crews died on foreign fishing vessels between November 2019 and March 2021,” said Abdi. They died from a variety of causes, including illness, experiencing violence in beatings and torture, murder and inadequate working conditions, food and drink during fishing operations.
Abdi said the majority of the 35 people worked on Chinese fishing boats. “Of the 35 people, 82% work on Chinese fishing vessels, 14% on Taiwanese fishing vessels and the rest in other countries such as Vanuatu,” said Abdi. Abdi added that the victims were dispatched by 16 recruiting and placement companies. “Ironically, out of 16 companies, only one company has a SIUPPAK issued by the Minister of Transportation,” said Abdi. It means that most of the crew of the fishing vessel who died departed through an unofficial or unprocedural route.
Currently, fishing boat crew recruitment and placement companies must officially have SP3MI permits from the Ministry of Manpower, SP2MI from the Indonesian Migrant Perka Protection Agency, and SIUPPAK from the Ministry of Transportation. “Although it has been regulated by Law no. 18/2017 concerning the Protection of Indonesian Migrant Workers and Law No. 17/2008 concerning Shipping, the recruitment and placement of fishing vessel crews still leaves a gap with the rise of unprocedural shipments, which have so far been difficult for the Indonesian government to monitor,” said Abdi
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Meanwhile, DFW Indonesia researcher Muh Arifuddin asked President Jokowi to fix the chaotic system of recruitment and placement of fishing vessel crews by immediately ending the dualism of the current regulations. “There are overlapping regulatory conflicts between the Shipping Law, the Limited Liability Company Law and the Migrant Workers Protection Act, which causes recruitment and delivery to be multi-door and complicated in supervision,” said Arif.
He urged President Jokowi to immediately issue a Government Regulation derived from Law 18/2017 so that recruitment and delivery can be focused on one door. “The multi-door mechanism that has been going on so far has been used by certain parties to take advantage of the limited capacity of the government in supervising the recruitment and placement of Indonesian migrant ship crew workers,” Arif explained.