Driving Sustainable Fishing Practices: Collaboration for Tropical Tuna Management

by Juliette Ezdra

After years of dedicated development, the Harvest Strategy for Tropical Tuna in Indonesian Archipelagic Waters (IAW) was launched by Ir. Sakti Wahyu Trenggono, the Minister of Marine Affairs and Fisheries, in early June 2023. This occasion demonstrates Indonesia’s commitment to sustainable fisheries management and the preservation of its valuable tuna resources.

What is a Harvest Strategy?

A Harvest Strategy serves as a compass for managing our fisheries responsibly. Imagine the vast ocean teeming with fish, while we humans love to fish but also care about preserving the marine ecosystem. As an elaborate plan that can guide decision-makers and stakeholders, it helps them set clear goals, determine how much fish can be caught sustainably, monitor the health of fish populations, and adapt their practices as needed.

In essence, it is a valuable tool that aims to ensure we can enjoy seafood without depleting fish stocks. By implementing a Harvest Strategy, we can fish in a way that supports both our needs and the long-term health of our oceans.

Why do we need a Harvest Strategy for tuna?

A Harvest Strategy is essential to promote responsible fishing practices, prevent overfishing, maintain the ecological balance of marine ecosystems while ensuring the livelihoods of fishing communities. It helps ensure the longevity of fish populations and achieve predetermined biological, ecological, and socio-economic objectives.

Recognizing the importance of sustainable fisheries, Indonesia has taken significant steps towards developing a comprehensive Harvest Strategy, particularly for managing its valuable tuna resources. The Harvest Strategy for Tropical Tuna IAW is the result of years of collaborative efforts involving various fisheries stakeholders, with Yayasan Masyarakat dan Perikanan Indonesia (MDPI) playing a pivotal role since 2014.

A Harvest Strategy for Tropical Tuna workshop, conducted by the Ministry and facilitated by MDPI

MDPI’s Role and Contributions

In 2013, Indonesia ratified the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission Convention, affirming its commitment to international cooperation while safeguarding its sovereignty. Subsequently, the Ministry of Marine Affairs and Fisheries (MMAF), with support from the Research Center for Fishery-BRIN, embarked on developing the Harvest Strategy for Tropical Tuna in IAW, encompassing yellowfin tuna, bigeye tuna and skipjack tuna resources. In 2018, the process resulted in the creation of a framework for the Harvest Strategy, with the comprehensive strategy document finalized in 2023 and officially launched in early June.

As one of the key stakeholders involved and a leading contributor of small-scale handline tuna fishery data, MDPI has been actively involved in data collection, scientific research, and technical workshops, providing reliable information and expertise. MDPI’s early involvement as a data provider with established robust data collection protocols inspired other organizations to contribute data to the Harvest Strategy. Through capacity building and collaboration, MDPI has supported evidence-based decision-making towards the goal of sustainable tuna fisheries management.

In 2017, Mr. Toni Ruchimat, the former Head of the Fisheries Research Center (Pusriskan-MMAF), acknowledged the importance of collaboration between MDPI and the Indonesian government to achieve sustainable fisheries management. “The government has an existing system for sustainable tuna fisheries, but it also faces certain limitations. MDPI and other NGOs can contribute by filling the gaps that cannot be addressed by the government,” he said.

Mr. Saut Tampubolon, former Deputy Director at the Directorate General of Capture Fisheries (MMAF), and Fisheries Advisor at MDPI from 2017 to 2022, emphasized that “MDPI’s involvement since 2014 has encompassed numerous activities, including providing data from handline catches, collecting Fish Aggregating Devices data, and collaborating in the organization of Stakeholder and Technical Data Workshops.”

Launch of the Harvest Strategy for Tropical Tuna in IAW by Ir. Sakti Wahyu Trenggono, June 9, 2023

The launch of the Harvest Strategy for Tropical Tuna in Indonesia marks a significant milestone in the nation’s commitment to sustainable fisheries management. The involvement of diverse stakeholders, including MDPI, has played a crucial role in supporting data-driven decision-making and stakeholder engagement. The Harvest Strategy provides a roadmap for responsible fishing practices, balancing ecological, economic, and social objectives. Continued efforts and awareness raising are essential to effectively manage tuna resources, protect marine ecosystems, and support the future of Indonesia’s tuna fisheries and coastal communities.