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18th Apr 13Managed by Chatham House
Financed by DEFRA
Technology ‘solution’ to curb illegal fishing
Technological solutions to help improve patrolling effectiveness need to be developed to prevent illegal fishing activities presently taking place in the Natuna Islands, a scientist says.
Betti Rosita Sari of the Indonesian Institute of Sciences (LIPI) said that illegal fishing remained a significant issue, the effects of which were repressing coastal communities in the Riau Islands’ regency.
Technology should be prioritized to prevent illegal fishing, which was partly a result of poor detection capabilities, she said. “Technologies to improve the effectiveness of maritime patrols are urgently needed to prevent illegal fishing,” she told The Jakarta Post, adding that the authorities should also boost their security operations to prevent illegal fishing carried out by foreign trawlers.
Scientists have warned that over-fishing will not only negatively affect the ecosystem and biodiversity in the Natuna Islands, but would also result in huge financial losses to local traditional fishermen.
Another LIPI scientist, Fahmi, said that overfishing in the regency by foreign trawlers had expanded rapidly, and poses dangerous threats to the ocean environment. “Indiscriminately catching fish in the area using large trawling nets results in destruction of the ecosystem,” he told journalists on the sidelines of a two-day workshop, “Natuna Sea and South Kalimantan Waters Expedition”.
The Natuna Expedition, jointly conducted from Nov. 4 to 16 by 36 scientists from the LIPI Oceanographic Research Center and 22 lecturers from various domestic universities, revealed that overfishing perpetrated by foreign trawlers remained the greatest threat to the ocean environment in the Natuna Islands.
Oceanographic Research Center head Suharsono said the losses caused by overfishing were irreversible, damaging a marine support system direly needed by human beings. “We cannot breed fish within the impaired areas. We can only wait for those areas to recover naturally, and that is almost impossible,” he said.
Over the past few years, local fishermen in the Natuna Islands have complained that unauthorized fishing by foreign trawlers had substantially depleted their stocks, but no significant preventative efforts by the authorities had been made.
According to Fisheries and Maritime Ministry data, due to overfishing, the volume of commercial marine species in Natuna waters had decreased to 0.27 ton per square meter in 2010, down from between 1.8 to 2.3 tons per square meter in 1974.
The data also indicates that Natuna waters have a harvest potential of at least one million tons of tuna, Spanish mackerel and squid per year. According to the Fishery and Maritime Ministry, overfishing in the Natuna Islands has been causing Rp 30 trillion (US$3.33 billion)
in financial losses to the state every year. However, the authorities reportedly prevented almost Rp 11 billion in potential financial losses with a string of successful security operations in 2010.
The Ministry said that at least 40 foreign trawlers and 157 fishermen from Vietnam had been arrested in 2010 for illegally fishing in the Natuna Islands. “We have to make further efforts to stop this poaching. If nothing is done, soon there won’t be many fish left in our coastal waters, Betti said, adding that although many complaints had been filed so far, the government had done little to significantly address the issue.”
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Impacts/Development, communities and livelihoods
Impacts/Environment, biodiversity and fish stocks
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