Preventing Forced Labor on Fishing Vessels
Preventing Forced Labor on Fishing Vessels

Based on data from the Ministry of Marine Affairs and Fisheries, the number of fishing vessels crews and fishermen currently reaches 2.2 million. Meanwhile, the Central Agency of Statistics (BPS) in February 2022 released the latest data, which stated that the current number of Indonesia’s workforce is 144.01 million people.

There was no explanation as to whether the 144.01 million included crew members of fishing vessels and fishermen. It is known that the work of fishing vessels crews and fishermen has been characterized as informal workers, profit-sharing wage systems, non-transparent recruitment systems, and a lack of worker supervision.

The Government of Indonesia has issued 11 laws, six government regulations, three presidential regulations, and ten ministerial regulations to protect fishing vessels crews and fishermen. The relevant Ministerial Regulation consists of the Minister of Marine Affairs and Fisheries Regulation, the Minister of Manpower Regulation, and the Minister of Transportation Regulation.

Even though there are numerous regulations in place to protect fishermen, labour violations continue to occur and are frequently reported.

The National Coordinator of Destructive Fishing Watch (DFW) Indonesia, Moh Abdi Suhufan, said that Indonesia had a surplus of regulations in protecting fishing boat crews and fishermen but was still weak in implementation in the field.

“There are enough rules and regulations, but they don’t seem to reinforce each other, so there are always gaps in the occurrence of violations,” said Abdi. He added that so far, the supervision of fishing vessel crews has not been regulated and carried out nationally. Currently, 576 fishing ports serve as places of work of fishing vessel crews and fishermen from fishing vessels that have completed fishing operations.

Throughout 2022, the National Fishers Center received 20 complaints of labour violations reported by fishing boat crews and fishermen. The manager of the National Fishers Center, Imam Trihatmadja, said that most of NFC’s complaints were related to wages. “40% of the reported problems related to unpaid salaries and wage deductions, 25% related to insurance and social security, and 15% related to fraud,” said Imam.

Realizing that the protection of crew and fishery is not solely the responsibility of the central government, the provincial government of North Sulawesi took the initiative to establish a cross-stakeholder forum.

This is in line with Law No/13/2002 concerning Manpower. Since 2020, the North Sulawesi provincial government has issued Governor’s Decree No. 117/2020 concerning the Regional Forum for the Protection of North Sulawesi Fishing Vessels.

The Head of the Manpower and Transmigration Office, Ir Erni Tumundo, M.Si, said that one of the establishments of the Forum was to ensure the synergy of the protection program for fishing vessel crews and fishermen run optimally.

One of the work programs of the Forum is to inspect fishing vessel crews. “Within two years, we have supervised and inspected ten fishing vessels in the city of Bitung,” said Erni. The inspected fishing vessels include holding vessels, handline and purse seine vessels owned by individuals and corporations. “The fishing vessels we inspected ranged in size from 29 to 145 GT, and the number of crew members inspected reached 270,” said Erni.

On a separate occasion, Assistant Deputy for Capture Fisheries Management, Coordinating Ministry for Maritime Affairs and Investment, Ir. Ikram Sangadji said that the fishing vessel crew inspection initiative in North Sulawesi is a monitoring model that needs to be adopted at the central level.

“This initiative is very good for preventing forced labour practices and exploitation of workers on fishing boats, so it needs to be an example and be adopted with technical and cross-ministerial regulations at the national level,” said Ikram.

His party has held inter-ministerial meetings to prepare inspection guidelines and form a joint inspection team at the central level. “Considering that the capture fisheries business involves the Ministry of Marine Affairs and Fisheries, Ministry of Transportation and Ministry of Manpower, we encourage the formation of an integrated team through the Coordinating Ministry for Maritime and Investments Affairs Decree,” said Ikram.

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