Indonesia Takes the Lead in Combating Illegal Fishing

The Ministry of Marine Affairs and Fisheries (MMAF) is organizing the 5th Maritime Discussion in preparation for the Fourth Meeting of the Parties to the FAO Agreement (MOP-4) on Port States Measures (PSMA). The MOP-4 event will take place in Bali from 8th to 12th May 2023.

PSMA is a government instrument aimed at foreign fishing vessels entering or using designated fishing port facilities to prevent, deter, and eliminate illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing. The application of PSMA focuses on fishing vessels entering ports or specialized fish-carrying container ships. “Indonesia has been at the forefront by ratifying the PSMA since 2016 to prevent IUU fishing,” explained Tri Aris Wibowo, Director of Fishery Ports, MMAF.

Nilanto Perbowo, as the Chairperson of MOP-4, further explained, “The benefits of Indonesia’s ratification of PSMA will enhance the competitiveness of Indonesian fishery products in the global market, serve as a means to campaign for the management of fishery resources in Indonesia with international standards, and promote the improvement of internationally standardized fishery port governance.”

There are four ports that have received PSMA based on the Minister of Marine Affairs and Fisheries Decree No. 52 of 2020 Nizam Zachman Fishery Port, Samudera Bungus, Samudera Bitung, and Samudra Benoa. As an example, Nilanto explained that 12 inspections of Japanese vessels using the PSMA instrument have been conducted at Benoa Port.

The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), represented by C.M. Muralidaran as the Regional Project Coordinator of the ISLME Project, confirmed that FAO supports the PSMA program in Indonesia through capacity building. “PSMA is the first binding international agreement to target IUU fishing, and as of now, 75 parties have joined it. FAO is providing a global capacity development program to 47 countries for PSMA implementation, including Indonesia, which has shown a proactive role in combating IUU fishing,” said Muralidaran.

Muralidaran also explained FAO’s Indonesia Sea Large Marine Ecosystem project, which contributes to combating IUU fishing through monitoring, control, and surveillance systems, national coordination meetings, and regional cooperation. Key issues identified include violations of fishing gear, species, fisheries data, and territorial boundaries. Recommendations include optimizing monitoring, control, and surveillance programs for IUU fishing.

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FAO emphasizes several recommendations from their studies, including the importance of focusing on pre-fishing responsibilities such as registration and licensing, as well as post-fishing activities such as accurate data collection and preventing illegally caught fish from entering the market. FAO also highlights the need for budget allocation, digitization, technology optimization, coordination among different agencies, and community engagement to strengthen monitoring, control, and surveillance efforts.

Nilanto Perbowo, who is also the Principal Expert in Capture Fisheries Production Management at the Directorate General of Capture Fisheries, explained the targets of the Fourth Meeting of the Parties to the FAO Agreement in Bali.

“The MOP-4 meeting targets are highly technical, such as designing effective strategies for the adoption of PSMA, monitoring the implementation of the agreement, considering the conclusions and recommendations of the Technical Working Group, deciding on the operationalization of the Global Information Exchange System (GIES), adopting the draft Terms of Reference for the GIES, and providing guidance on which features should be prioritized in the development of GIES.” Further, Nilanto explained that Indonesia was chosen as the host because FAO acknowledges its role as a lead country in regional capacity building and emphasizes the importance of bilateral arrangements with neighboring countries.

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National Coordinator of Destructive Fishing Watch Indonesia, Moh Abdi Suhufan reminds the Ministry of Marine Affairs and Fisheries to strengthen coordination with other agencies in the implementation of the Port State Measures Agreement (PSMA). “The challenge is to have a joint guide for vessel inspections conducted by relevant authorities at Indonesian ports to avoid overlapping,” says Abdi. The readiness and capacity of Indonesian port authorities also need to be anticipated properly.

In addition to preventing IUUF practices, Abdi hopes that inspections should also be conducted on the crew of fishing vessels to ensure their conditions and protection, and to prevent forced labor and slavery on fishing vessels. “The implementation of PSMA in Indonesian ports is expected to prevent and monitor the occurrence of forced labor on fishing vessels,” says Abdi. The PSMA is expected to benefit Indonesia, not only as a mandate implementation but also in efforts to maintain Indonesia’s interests globally.

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