- Indonesia will expand its smart fisheries village program, aiming to empower fishing communities to boost their productivity, achieve sustainability standards, and improve their overall economic welfare.
- Twenty-two fishing communities are enrolled in the initial batch of the program, which will focus primarily on fisheries, but also look to improve community welfare through tourism, public health interventions, financial literacy, and other initiatives.
- The participating communities are involved in catching or farming a wide range of seafood and other products, from octopus and tilapia to shrimp and organic salt.
- The fisheries sector employs about 12 million Indonesians, with most of the fleet today, about 650,000 vessels, operated by small-scale and traditional fishers.
JAKARTA — Small-scale and traditional fishers make the greatest contribution to Indonesia’s total fish production, driving the country’s rise as one of the world’s top fishing nations. In an effort to strengthen this base, the government is expanding a modernization program that should help fishers boost their productivity, achieve sustainability standards, and improve their overall socioeconomic welfare.
The so-called smart fisheries village (SFV) program was initially introduced in 22 fishing communities, according to the Indonesian fisheries ministry. Outside its main fishery focus, the expanded program will also integrate aspects of tourism, banking, telecommunications and agriculture to support the development of the participating communities.
Indonesia harvested 84.4 million metric tons of seafood in 2018, making it one of the biggest marine capture producers in the world, according to the U.N.’s Food and Agriculture Organization. The fisheries sector employs about 12 million Indonesians, with most of the fleet today, about 650,000 vessels, operated by small-scale and traditional fishers.
“The concept is not us giving help, but providing the leverage that these villages can use to develop and become intelligent or smart together to boost the village’s economy,” fisheries minister Sakti Wahyu Trenggono said in a statement.
Most of the initial batch of smart fisheries villages are on the island of Java. Other areas are in South Sumatra and West Sumatra provinces, Sulawesi Island, and the Malukus. The participating communities are involved in catching or farming a wide range of seafood and other products, from octopus and tilapia to shrimp and organic salt.
Patra Tani village in South Sumatra’s Muara Enim district is one of the pilot villages for this program. The project there began in 2020 with a broad focus, including establishing a fish sanctuary for commercially important species, as well as setting up a carbon offset scheme, and launching a fish-based nutritional supplement program to tackle infant stunting.
The fisheries ministry said it would collaborate with NGOs and other government agencies, in particular the ministry for village development; the government in 2022 allocated 68 trillion rupiah ($4.5 billion) from the state budget to fund development projects in villages all over the country.
The government also plans to establish a network of dozens of villages with aquaculture farms to cater to growing global demand for farmed seafood. These villages will cultivate high-value aquaculture commodities, such as shrimp, lobster, crab and seaweed.
Indonesia has since 2019 made boosting its aquaculture productivity a top development priority. The country’s aquaculture output in the third quarter of 2021 was 12.25 million metric tons, a 6% increase from the same period in 2020. Globally, aquaculture production grew by 527% from 1990-2018, with Indonesia among the top producing countries.
The fisheries ministry said a key part of the smart fisheries village program is to optimize the local, high-value fishery commodity of each site from upstream to downstream, and expanding other potential marine-based sectors such as tourism.
“There will also be spots for tourism and micro, small and medium enterprises. This is indeed aimed to explore and develop a fisheries village that’s advanced, modern and sustainable in boosting the local economy,” said I Nyoman Radiarta, the ministry’s head of fisheries research and development.
Basten Gokkon is a senior staff writer for Indonesia at Mongabay. Find him on Twitter @bgokkon.
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