Currently, it is difficult for the capture fisheries industry to apply protection standards that are sensitive to human rights. Annually, at least 24,000 people are killed, and 24 million are injured on commercial fishing vessels, according to the International Labour Organization (ILO) statistics. Aside from the threat to health and safety, Indonesia has a long way to go before the employment protection aspects of fishing vessel crews are met in a comprehensive manner. Even though the government has issued several regulations to protect fishing boat crews, the consistency and oversight of their implementation have yet to meet expectations.
International Labor Day, which is observed on May 1, should serve as an impetus for the government, business actors, and fishery labour unions to reflect on and improve or alter the governance of Indonesian fishing vessel crews, both those working domestically and those who are foreign-born.
Moh Abdi Suhufan, the National Coordinator of Destructive Fishing Watch Indonesia, stated that the governance of fishing vessel crews must be improved simultaneously at four vulnerable points. Abdi said that at least four vulnerable points of the work chain on fishing vessels had been improved: recruitment and placement, working conditions, wage systems, and competence certification.
The global capture fishing industry is currently under pressure due to COVID-19’s effect on Indonesian migrant crew members. Many Indonesian crew members are detained abroad due to this condition, working without contracts or wages and facing threats of violence. “Due to the COVID-19 factor, Taiwan, which is one of the placement countries for Indonesian crew members, has not yet opened the door for the arrival of Indonesian crew members,” said Abdi.
Even though the government has issued the provisions of Minister of Marine Affairs and Fisheries Regulation No. 33/2021 regarding the management of fishing vessel crews, several provisions do not comply with the requirements of Government Regulation No. 36/2021 on Wages in regards to the condition of domestic crew members.
Following the Minister Marine Affairs and Fisheries Regulation, fishing vessel crews are compensated using a monthly salary system or profit-sharing. The type of profit-sharing system and mechanism not specified is governed and submitted under the agreement between the employer and employee. Abdi stated, “This is dangerous and detrimental to fishing boat crews because the relationship between crew members and ship owners is perpetually unbalanced.”
In addition, he emphasized the provision of monthly wages that are at least equivalent to the provincial minimum wage but, in many cases, are lower than the local minimum wage. Abdi stated, “The current loval minimum provision in DKI Jakarta is Rp. 4.6 million per month, but the wages of crew members are only Rp. 35,000 per day, or Rp. 1,035,000 per month.” There is minimal oversight of the government’s wage system for crew members. “The UMP specifies numerous wage practices for crew members, but labour authorities rarely address this issue,” said Abdi.
Imam Trihatmadja, DFW Indonesia Program Coordinator, urged the government to improve recruitment standards for fishing vessel crews. “Especially for the domestic crew, the Ministry Marine Affairs and Fisheries provisions only regulate vessel fishing crews who will embark the ship. But where do these crew members come from, and how do they meet competency standards and certification requirements? That’s still a mystery,” said Imam.
The government has made no significant effort to ensure that all fishing vessel crews working on domestic fishing vessels have opted for a basic safety certification or basic safety training. “Although this is a required document for fishing vessel crews before working on fishing vessels,” Imam stated. Therefore, he proposed that the Ministry of Marine Affairs and Fisheries establish a program to provide 100,000 free basic safety certificates to domestic fishing boat crews,” concluded Imam.