Empowerment and Community Development

At the onset of the program, the Certificate Holder, through MDPI, is responsible to conduct a needs assessment, not just based on interviews with fishers but also with representatives of the community. From this needs assessment, it is expected that the Fisher Association will have ideas on what to spend their Premium Fund. Later, Fisher Associations will build their sourcing plan (which is a forecast of their catch for the coming year), estimate how much premium they will get in a year and develop a premium plan where they decide how they will spend their Premium Fund.

The premium fund reaches the fishers through the following process. The Certificate Holder, representing the consumer, will transfer the total amount due (at present the Indonesian premium fund is equivalent to $0.30/ Kg of ex-vessel fish) to the account of the Fair Trade Committee. The Fair Trade Committee will then distribute the fund to their associated Fisher Associations, based on the respective volumes and associated premiums calculated per Fisher association. The Fisher Associations may access their fund after a quorum decision in Fair Trade Committee meetings, when their Premium Plan is approved. The Fisher Association officers prepare the proposals and present them on semi-annual basis at the Fair Trade Committee meetings. Upon spending of the Premium Fund and implementation of the premium plan, the Fisher Association needs to record their expenses and prepare reports for the Fair Trade Committee before they may access additional funds.

Data Productions and Premium Program

Up to March 2017, total production of Fair Trade loins over the years of implementation that was exported:

Fair Trade Committees Exported 2014 (kg)

95 fishers

4 FAs

Exported 2015 (kg)

508 fishers

25 FAs

Exported 2016 (kg)

635 fishers

34 FAs

Assilulu 11,086.00 9,427.20 29,084.52
South Buru 15,857.84 10,595.82
North Buru 26,543.60 83,239.54 133,496.67
South Seram 17,769.90 59,168.05
North Seram 28,875.46
Tolitoli 26,836.47
Grand Total 37,629.60 126,294.48 288,056.99


From the beginning of the program to April 2017, total of premium fund transferred to Fair Trade Committee accounts reaching the total of IDR2,189,750,588.31 (approx. USD168,442). Up to March 2017 disbursements there are 383 proposals has been approved by 6 Fair Trade Committees, totaled to IDR 1,605,814,450.00 (approx. USD123,500). In general, the fund is use for these purposes:

Community Infrastructure

Fishers are often considered the “bottom of the chain” in the community. It is a joyous experience for Fair Trade registered fishers to be able to donate funds for the rehabilitation of religious functions and donor on religious activities in the community. This includes rehabilitations of village access to Mosque and landing site which was found to be a challenging during wet seasons.

Fishers communities do not prioritize insurance as a regular monthly expense, but with the premium fund they now have the opportunity to spend some of the premium fund as a sickness fund and grievance contributions to fisher’s families.

Environmental Responsibilities

30% of the premium, based on the Fair Trade compliance criteria, should be use for environmental activities. Some of the implemented projects to date under the environmental component are data collections incentives, including paying wages for the enumerators hired by FAs to record their fishing trips; Endangered, Threaten and Protected, ETP, species campaigns in form of producing t-shirt filled with messages (walking campaign), purchase of environmental books and distribute them to the school, including sessions in classes where the fishers introduce conservation of ETP to the schoolchildren; tree-planting projects; clean beach programs; sea-turtle conservations ponds; garbage collection posts in the villages.

Children and Education

In some villages, after school activities for children include learning how to read Al Quran in the Moslem children center in the village. The condition of these children center is sometimes just basic, and not comfortable. Premium fund is being used for renovating these premises.

In the beginning of school year, around July of each year – fishers and their families typically have high expenses in order to send their children to school… Starting in 2016, the FAs included uniform and supplies for the local schools into their premium plan to support fisher’s children and some unfortunate children in the village.

In the Fisher Association Premium Plan meeting they will agrees on the number of children, how much assistance will be given to each child.

Fisher’s safety

Fishers in the past have typically not focused heavily on their safety. They focus on providing food for their families and do allow expenses for their safety. The Premium fund is being used to purchase life jackets, first aid boxes for their vessels.

In late 2015, there were bad fogs around Buru islands, with some fishers finding it difficult to make their way back to their village from sea. Since then the fishers have finally agreed to spend their premiums to purchase GPS units, where they may mark their home and coordinate the fishing locations. They may apply the basic navigations knowledge they get from Safety at Sea trainings they have participated in during the program.

Quality Improvement Program

Fishers require more understanding on the effect of the fish handling process and how these effect quality and price of the fish. Representatives of the CTP quality team conduct inspection trips, meetings with fishers and training conducted for the fishers and suppliers on fish handling, including tools and maintenance of their premises. Fishers start allocating their premium to improve the tools they use including stainless steel knives, cutting boards and high quality storage boxes.

Due to inconsistent electricity in many of the fisher villages, premium funds have also been allocated to include HDPE box so the storage and maintenance of an adequate ice supply becomes easier.

Organizational Development

Each Fishers Associations meets minimum once every 2 months and Fair Trade Committee meets two times per year. The premium fund in most FAs includes an organizational development fund, which supports these on-going meetings. When the officers of the Fisher Association and Fair Trade Committee do their administrative work, or are implementing the premium projects, they are not able to go fishing – this fund is also use as replacement fund for non-fishing days. It’s being used also for logistic and supplies of the organizations.

Traceability of Fish

When fishers go fishing, they typically go for about 14 hours. When they reach the shore – they are tired. Most of the time, they forget to tag their catch, causing their fish to not be considered as Fair Trade Fish. In early 2015, one Fisher Association started assigning the helper or their middlemen to be responsible for the tagging of fish, separate the fish from non Fair Trade fish, and also handle the consignment papers to the factory. This is now commonplace and supports the fishers to run their program more effectively.

Fuel starters

One of the first premium plans proposed by the fishers was to create fuel purchasing system, which would allow fisher associations to purchase fuel in large quantities for their fishing operations at cost price, rather than paying high prices to middlemen or local fuel traders (note many of these communities are very remote so fuel transport from provincial hubs can be quite expensive and make running costs of fishing operations quite costly). There was a tough discussion among fishers and MDPI as the implementing assistance on the ground. MDPI tried to promote other projects but these were rejected, the fishers just wanted to buy fuel, noting this was one of their basic needs. It is quite understandable, it’s their biggest overhead cost of fishing. A drum of 200L with mix of engine oil costs them Rp. 2,000,000, (around US$155)- and in some areas, it only supports 4- 6 fishing trips, where not all these fishing trips are guaranteed to be fruitful.

MDPI has supported the program implementation,- but with certain conditions which deter from adding capacity on the water and pushing a process which aims to give fishers lessons in basic cooperative, management and procurement skills.

This program was implemented in 3 FAs during the bad fishing seasons in mid 2016.MDPI assisted the whole process, from teaching the techniques of procurement to finding best vendors, building rules and regulations of this so called basic cooperatives and during the distributions of fuel to assist the coordinators to collect the funds after a certain time. Some fishers were able to return the fund and experienced the benefit of this program, but most are just not lucky on their fishing efforts – and are not able to return the fund to the FAs. This inequality created bad conflicts within the Fisher Associations. This was indeed predicted, but sometimes lessons can be taken from making some initial mistakes… It took months to finally make the members sit in one meeting and decide to pardon some debts, accept the faults in the system they had established and to start over.

Future Challenge

Implementing Fair Trade in the fishery is challenging. Most of fishers have strong personalities, low educational background and think individually. Every successful premium project builds their confidence, organizational skills and brings the members of each Fisher Association closer to each other and supports the building of trust and a feeling of community among their fellow members and within the system. Additionally, due to the contributions which the fishers are making to the communities, whether by infrastructure development or contributions to schools, the standing of the fishers in the community has also improved. They have become proud and confident contributers to their community development and are increasingly respected for their role in this.

It’s time for MDPI to try to stimulate the ideas of having longer term and bigger premium funded programs.