On an inspection in Bali this week, fisheries minister Susi Pudjiastuti discovered that a number of boats had had their sizes marked down in order to receive subsidized fuel meant for smaller boats.
Pudjiastuti responded with a threat to limit the fuel subsidy to boats under five gross tons, down from 30 now.
Before Pudjiastuti was appointed minister, boats over 30 gross tons could receive the cheaper fuel.
In Indonesia, fishing boats with a capacity of over 30 deadweight tonnage can receive subsidized fuel from the government. But during an inspection at Bali’s Benoa Port on Tuesday, fisheries minister Susi Pudjiastuti discovered that many boats marked down their sizes. Some boats with deadweight of over 50 gross tons had been marked down to less than 30.
Susi responded with a threat to withdraw the fuel subsidy for all boats over five gross tons.
“This is a crime of data manipulation. All of the perpetrators deserve criminal punishment,” Pudjiastuti said, adding that the practice had cost the state millions of rupiah.
“We forgave them for fishing illegally in our waters. We only asked them to return to their own waters,” she said. “Now, they have cheated us, manipulating data for their own benefit.”
It used to be that boats over 30 gross tons were eligible for the subsidized fuel. The rule change was part of a series of reforms enacted by the administration of President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo, who made Pudjiastuti head of the fisheries ministry after taking office in 2014.
Pudjiastuti has also enforced a ban on destructive trawl and seine nets and imposed catch limits for lobsters and crabs, all in the name of resuscitating Indonesia’s ailing fish stocks. Some of the measures have been protested by groups who argue they will hurt fishermen.
There has been some debate over how low to go with the subsidy, with some arguing that “small fishermen” under 30 gross tons should remain eligible for the cheaper fuel.