My Best Two Months in 2016… Norita’s Fair Trade Internship story

17 Feb 2017
Indah Rufiati
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The best part of our life is when we are able to find a new definition of life from each experiences offered by this world. This is my story from two months in Bali, well known as “Dewata Island”(The Island of God). A very short time to enjoy my life around people whom I can say are the happiest fish nerds I’ve had the pleasure of meeting. These people have dedicated their working life to small scale fishermen… MDPI is a family team who work together developing a concept about how to improve fishermen’s livelihoods, while at the same time protecting the environment through fisheries sustainability.

Fair Trade is one of MDPI programs that has a special interest to me. I first heard about Fair Trade when I read a module from my master program in Germany: “Strategic Management”. Fair Trade is a certification process that not only focuses on environmental aspect, but also incorporates economic development, social responsibility, and empowerment aspects. As far as I knew, this concept was only implemented in the agricultural sector , which made me think “How brilliant if we can apply it to the fisheries sector too?”. It wasn’t my idea….Fair Trade USA thought of it first and MDPI have become the first people in the world to implement it! Dream do come true, don’t they?

The rise of seafood consumption is unfortunately plagued by the fact that our ocean is in danger. Over-exploitation, IUU (Ilegal, Unreported, and Unregulated) fishing issues and irresponsible fishing practices have caused many parties to begin working in various and coordinated ways to save our oceans. There are currently several movements that focus on sustainable fisheries, however, some of them have forgotten that sustainable fisheries, in my opinion, are impossible without sustainable communities and fishermen.

How about Fair Trade? Throughout my two months, I learned many things, I read so much text that gave me a deeper insight into this topic. I got a better understanding that the Fair Trade USA for seafood schematic is not only about selling and buying fish. It is so much more! Did you know that as a consumer if you buy one package of certified fish in the supermarket, it means that the small amount you pay over an equivalent non certified fish, that this money goes back into a community fund for fisher communities made up of almost 700 certified fishermen across East Indonesia. These funds support community development, environmental protection and general improvement of the fishers lives.

The main objective of  my internship has been to analyse and summarise the implementation of Fair Trade certification process in Indonesian Handline Tuna as a pilot project. Interviews with key persons who are directly and indirectly involved in the certification process were used to figure out what parts of the standard worked well and what criteria may need adjustment for future application and success. A Focus Group Discussion evaluated which criteria required greater priority and effort to achieve the Fair Trade certification for small scale tuna fisheries in Indonesia. Based on my study, I found that there are five elements of the standard which has greatest priority level to focus on:

  1. Statistic Data of Fish Stocks
  2. Management and Communication Skills
  3. Good Implementation of Fair Trade Premium
  4. Fishery Management Plan
  5. Democratic Decision Making

These priorities could be used as the consideration for MDPI as an implementor to set some strategies that hopefully could help them work in more effective and efficient way. The results will hopefully also be useful to other fisheries and implementers in the region aiming for Fair Trade certification, who can learn from the experience and challenges in the Indonesian tuna certification.

I believe that the best way of thanks giving is by expressing it in action. For this opportunity, I would like to say a big thanks to MDPI who represent us as a sustainability steward to deliver our thanks to the small scale fishery… for the ocean… by protecting them… helping them to get prosperous… and empowering their society… 🙂

Writer: Norita Afridiana

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