Fulfilling fisher legal requirements to combat IUU fishing

By: Karel Yerusa & Marwan Adam

One of the biggest threats to the sustainability of our oceans and fisheries is illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing (IUUF) practices. A wide range of policies and agreements are currently put in place to improve joint efforts and commitment in combating IUUF, both at the national and international levels. In line with sustainability principles that MDPI also adhere to, the work that we do continue to support enforcing legal, reported, and regulated fisheries.

In combatting illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing (IUUF), fishers’ legality is an important aspect that must be regulated, from identity cards, insurance, to vessel registration documents. In addition to the required fisheries business card (KUSUKA) issued by the government, fishers are also required to register their vessels. However, due to limited access in areas located far from government offices, many small-scale fishers still find it challenging to fulfil legal requirements. Fortunately, more and more fishers are starting to recognize the importance of fisher legality, both for their personal interests and for the the sustainability of fisheries, their main source of income. In response to this, MDPI collaborates with the government to bridge the gap between them and small-scale fishers, to ensure that all administrative needs are met, including vessel registration.

Together with the Port Management Unit (UPP), MDPI assists small-scale fishers across all project sites in the process of vessel registration, to obtain vessel documents such as Pas Kecil and Fishing Vessel Registration Certificate (TDKP). Based on current regulations, Pas Kecil is issued by the Ministry of Transportation, intended for vessels under 7 GT. Vessel measurement, recently carried out in the Sula Islands in North Maluku and North Minahasa in North Sulawesi, are conducted frequently for fishers within MDPI’s scope of work and it is the most important step in obtaining a Pas Kecil, the first required document prior to obtaining a TDKP.

Asip Paputungan, a handline fisher in Talawaan Bajo village of North Sulawesi, said that small-scale fishers are currently taking on a more active role in improving fisheries, including by ensuring that their papers are all in order. “In the past, we were a tribe that won battles and we honor that by naming our village ‘Talawaan Bajo’, which means ‘no one wins against us’. Now, it is time for us small-scale fishers to move to the frontlines and fight against IUU fishing, to build a better future for us.” Asip is one of the many tuna handline fishers residing in the village that is currently registered under the name Minaesa. As fishers with who highly understand the importance of sustainable fisheries, Asip and others in the fisher association are actively involved in fisheries management in their area.

In 2022, MDPI together with the UPP have so far taken the measurement of 97 small-scale fishing vessels of 1 GT in several MDPI project sites. In March, 57 vessels spread across Bajo Village and Mangon Village in Sanana, Sula Islands completed the measurement phase and have successfully obtained their Pas Kecil. Furthermore, in North Minahasa Regency a total of 40 vessels in Minaesa Village were measured, currently waiting for their Pas Kecil. Once their Pas Kecil has been issued, fishers can proceed to register for a TDKP document through the Integrated One-Stop Service (PTSP) under the Ministry of Marine Affairs and Fisheries.

In the coming months, about 10 fishing vessels the size of 10-20 GT in MDPI’s Bone site in South Sulawesi are due for a fishing permit (SIPI) extension. Meanwhile, in Lombok, West Nusa Tenggara, registration papers for 25 vessels are awaiting verification before proceeding to the measurement phase. Rajab, one of the tuna fishers who actively participates in fishery management activities in Seruni Mumbul Village, has high hopes for fisheries improvement efforts in East Lombok. “As fishers, we hope that the process of registration and licensing continue to be made easier for us, that the government can be step up to ensure our safety at sea, and that our catch is given a fair price, considering the high risks of being a fisher,” he said.

From an economic perspective, every fishery product that is successfully exported through an environmentally-friendly certified supply chain holds a higher price value for fishers. Fishery certification standards such as Fair Trade USA and the Marine Stewardship Council require that the products sold do not come from illegal vessels or involved in any IUUF practices; a global step taken to maintain fish stocks and the sustainability of the ecosystem as a whole.

The Pas Kecil document itself has now become a requirement for all fishers in Indonesia, not only to support the government in registering and verifying vessels that operate across Indonesian waters, but to also provide a legal basis for fishers when it comes to vessel ownership. In addition, vessel documents also play an important role in increasing fisher safety, given that several elements of the registration process relate to ensuring that the vessels are in good physical condition and have all required equipment onboard; two things that contribute to the safety of fishers while at sea.

MDPI through the fisheries and community organization programs focus on issues relating to small-scale fisheries in eastern Indonesia. We continue to stay committed to supporting the regional and national government in improving fisheries management, to ensure more thriving and self-sustaining coastal communities across the provinces in which we work.