Increasing Fisheries Production, Indonesian Should Not Ignore Fisheries Human Rights

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The efforts of the Indonesian government in increasing the production and export of fisheries must be accompanied by attention and human rights protection policies for workers in the fisheries sector. The fisheries sector is currently still vulnerable to forced labour and trafficking practices. This practice occurs in fish farming, fishing and processing sub-sector.

Indonesia’s Destructive Fishing Watch (DFW) National Coordinator, Moh Abdi Suhufan, said that the plan to deregulate a number of marine and fisheries sector policies through a review of 29 regulations is feared to make the fisheries sector a place to exploit fish resources without thinking about sustainability. “It is feared that economic considerations will dominate fisheries policies going forward without considering environmental and social aspects,” Abdi said. Although fish stocks in the Indonesian sea are indicated to rise, the government must realize that currently, global fish stocks are running low.

The current fishing activities are marked by increasing production costs, especially with the government’s plan to encourage the Indonesian fishing fleet to catch on EEZ. Fishing in more distant locations will increase fuel costs and labour costs, businesses will push these two things to remain competitive. “Without strong instruments and supervision, employers will cut labour costs and this will be an incentive for modern slavery in the capture fisheries sector,” Abdi said. So far, the instrument to conduct labour inspection in the fisheries sector is still partially carried out by the Ministry of Marine and Fisheries and the Ministry of Manpower.

Meanwhile, the SAFE Seas Project Coordinator, DFW-Indonesia, Muh Arifuddin asked the Ministry of Marine and Fisheries to more effectively implement the Minister of Marine and Fisheries Regulation No. 35/2015 regarding Human Rights Systems and Certification in the Fisheries Business. “So far the regulation is the only legal product of the government that directly prevents forced labour, human rights violations and trafficking in the fisheries sector,” Arif said. The regulation still partially regulates domestic crew members, not yet fully regulating fishers working overseas (migrants).

Arif warned that currently in the global market, many fish are caught by people who work more than 18 hours a day, earn $ 200-300 a month and work in debt bondage and extortion. “Last month, we found 3 fishing vessel crews from Bitung who worked on Chinese vessel for 7 months without wage and the government was not present to help them get the rights they were supposed to get,” Arif said. Therefore, the government should not turn a blind eye to this issue and must take concrete steps to provide protection for fishing vessel crews at home and abroad.

“The government should prioritize human rights policies in the fisheries sector to be in line with efforts to increase production and exports thus that workers and fishermen involved in fishing activities can be socially protected,” Abdi concluded.

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