The government has not fully protected fishermen, particularly Indonesian fishing boat crews who work at home and abroad. 232 fishing boat crews became victims over two years, from 2020 to 2022. They are victims of forced labour and human trafficking as a result of insufficient legal protections, policies, and programs for fishing boat crews.
Destructive Fishing Watch Indonesia urges the Indonesian government to adopt international standards governing the protection of fishing boat crews, specifically the International Labour Organization’s convention 188/2007, and to complete the derivative rules of Law No. 18/2017 on the Protection of Indonesian Migrant Workers.
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Imam Trihatmadja, the Hotspot Program Coordinator for DFW Indonesia, stated that the number of victims of fishing boat crews has increased in line with the number of complaints received at the National Fishers Center. “Disclosure of ABK cases in various media outlets and by law enforcement officers in recent years has had no discernible effect on the management of ABK protection,” Imam stated. The National Fishers Center received nine complaints from 33 victims during the first quarter of this year.
“From 2020 to March 2022, we received 77 complaints from fishing boat crews, resulting in 232 victims,” Imam explained. Victims included the deceased, the missing, the disabled, and the survivors. Imam detailed that 44.16 per cent of the 77 complaints came from migrant crew members, while 55.84 per cent came from domestic crew members. “The most frequent complaints from crew members are unpaid salaries, insurance and social security and fraud,” said Imam.
Additionally, his party criticized the Indonesian government’s slow response to complaints lodged by fishing boat crews. “The Directorate General of Sea Transportation, Ministry of Transportation, did not respond to or resolve 44.16 per cent of complaints from migrant crew members,” Imam stated. Additionally, the National Fishers Center commends the Ministry of Maritime Affairs and Fisheries for its prompt response to complaints from domestic crew members. “The KKP’s completion rate of complaints is quite high, at 55.84 per cent,” Imam stated.
The National Fishers Center is a DFW Indonesia-managed online platform for fishing vessel crew complaints. “Migrant and domestic crew members have widely used this platform. We have received complaints from Indonesian crew members in Taiwan, Pacific Islands, Africa, Muara Baru, Dobo, Benoa and Bitung,” said Imam.
DFW Indonesia Coordinator Moh Abdi Suhufan asked the government to consider the ratification of ILO convention 188/2007 on protecting fishing vessel crews. “The current national regulatory framework for protecting fishing vessel crews is still partial, fragmented in various sectors and difficult to coordinate,” said Abdi.
This ratification will clarify the role and function of the labour agency to comprehensively regulate the governance of fishing vessel crews working at home and abroad. “Unlike today, there is no fully responsive agency and creates confusion for workers when claiming responsibility for protection from the state,” said Abdi.
It is also surprising that the government has not yet issued a Draft Government Regulation on the Placement and Protection of Migrant Fishing Vessel Crews. “The crew of migrant fishing vessels are hundreds of thousands and need protection from the recruitment stage by manning agents. If the upstream is left messy and cannot be managed, then don’t be surprised if the victims will continue to fall,” concluded Abdi.