STORY FROM THE FIELD: FAIR TRADE BRINGS NEW HOPE IN PULAU BISA

7 Sep 2017
Indah Rufiati
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In mid-July 2017, MDPI officially launched the Fair Trade (FT) Program for yellowfin tuna commodity in Pulau Bisa, Obi Utara District, Halmahera Selatan Regency, Maluku Utara Province. The initiative is being implemented with the support from USAID Sustainable Ecosystems Advanced (USAID SEA) Project. MDPI brought its successful experience when it implemented the first pilot project of Fair Trade USA–SEAFOOD in 2014 in which Coral Triangle Processors — a processor and also exporter of yellowfin tuna was the client/certificate holder. In October 2014 the Maluku handline tuna fishery was certified at entry level. The certification process is a six-year system, with continuous improvements and third party audits required on an annual basis. The world’s first Fair Trade certified seafood, in this case yellowfin tuna, is now available in >1000 Safeway and Hy-Vee stores as well as in many well-known restaurants across the U.S, recognizable with the Fair Trade USA logo.

North Maluku was chosen because of its fish potential by small-scale fishermen (1 GT (Gross Tonnage) – 2 GT) using environmentally friendly handline fishing gear (a single nylon line with a hook). To participate in this program, fishermen are required to form their selves in a Fishers Association (FA). Until now, there are 36 FAs participating in this program throughout Indonesia.

The challenge of starting the new site for the FT Program in Pulau Bisa is about trust. At first, fishermen were skeptical about the program. Therefore, at an initial stage, MDPI has focused its efforts on building the fishermen trust and understanding on what benefits they could gain if they are committed to participating in the program.   Currently, 4 FAs were formed: FA Tuna Jaya, FA Tanjung Tuna, FA Usaha Bersama and FA Beringin. Through the FT Program, fishermen’s livelihood is expected to improve as well as the living standard of the community. The FT concept is a new face in fish trading where the producers, in this case the fishermen, get a decent price for each kilogram fish they sell as well as Fair Trade premium fund paid by the consumers who buy their Fair Trade products. The calculation of Premium Fund is 0.3 USD from each 1 kilogram fish sold from the dock price. This premium fund will go to the account of the Fair Trade Committee and not into fishers’ personal pockets. It will be utilized for various community projects, including a 30% contribution to environmentally focused projects such as planting trees, sea turtle conservation, etc. The rest of premium fund can be utilized to support the needs of fishermen and social programs such as improving village infrastructure, repairing mosques, purchasing GPS (Global Positioning System) and providing scholarships for school children. The utilization of Fair Trade premium fund for community projects could eventually build the fishers pride and empower them who used to be underestimated. By participating in the fair trade program, the fishers will be able to improve confidence by realizing the fact that they could give a noteworthy contribution to the community.

On the other hand, consumers get their own satisfaction for buying products with Fair Trade label. They know that behind the label there are stories and hard work done by the fishermen. By buying Fair Trade certified seafood, it also means that they have contributed in the efforts of promoting sustainable fisheries to preserve the ecosystem, for a better world.

Writer: Arroyan Suwarno

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