North Maluku Waters: Big Potential, But Little Attention

North Maluku Waters

The practice of destructive fishing and fishing illegally, unreported and violating regulations (IUUF) is strongly suspected of continuing to occur throughout the waters of North Maluku.

These two fishing practices that are not commendable and are hated by many people can continue to exist, because North Maluku is one of the provinces that has not received full attention in fisheries management nationally.

This was explained by the Executive Director of the Center for Maritime Studies for Humanity Abdul Halim while in Jakarta last week. He said North Maluku was a victim of the national fisheries policy that had been made and implemented by the Central Government.

This is because the waters of North Maluku are one of the most potential that Indonesia has. In fact, North Maluku waters directly intersect with the four Republic of Indonesia State Fisheries Management Areas (WPPNRI).

According to Abdul Halim, the main problem that has not been solved so far is the lack of government implementation of monitoring , control and surveillance or MCS activities as the main parameter.

In fact, the implementation of MCS at sea, is believed to be a way to bring fisheries potential to be more useful as much as possible. MCS activities, of course, must receive support in the form of policies, budgets, and institutions.

Unfortunately, that parameter is still not implemented until now. Although, the Central Government has designated the waters of Maluku and North Maluku as national fish storages (LIN). Without a sustainable MCS, there will be negative impacts at sea.

Halim revealed, without increasing MSC capacity in carrying out fisheries governance in North Maluku waters, it is certain that negative activities will emerge such as illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing (IUUF) and destructive fishing .

As a result of the increasing number of these two activities, North Maluku Province must surrender to a lot of loss of regional original income (PAD). Another impact that cannot be ignored, IUUF and destructive fishing will ignore the welfare of small fishermen there.

“(Officials) Jakarta and Sofifi (the capital city of North Maluku) must sit together to reorient MCS policies, budgets and institutions in order to combat destructive practices and IUU fishing ,” he stressed.

He said North Maluku waters were a gathering place for large pelagic fish such as tuna ( Thunnus spp ), skipjack ( Katsuwonus pelamis ), and cob ( Euthynus sp ). These three types of fish are widely known as commodities with the abbreviation TCT.

Not surprisingly, almost all of the fishermen in North Maluku are TCT catchers by profession.

In September 2022, the Central Bureau of Statistics (BPS) for North Maluku Province released facts about the number of poor people who had reached 82.13 thousand people in the province. This number increased by 2.26 thousand people or 6.37 percent compared to March 2022.

“Meanwhile, North Maluku fishery production in 2022 managed to exceed the target by 106 percent or reach 378,111 tons of the target of 356,400 tons,” he explained.

This fact is ironic, because according to Abdul Halim, fish resources (SDI) in North Maluku are very large. Supposedly, small communities can enjoy the abundance of natural wealth.

There are several problems that make poverty continue to increase, and human resources are not managed properly. This issue is closely related to the initial issuance of regulations by the Ministry of Maritime Affairs and Fisheries (KKP) to support national fisheries governance.

First, is the job creation policy that is emphasized in Article 27A paragraph (3) of Law No. 6/2023 on the Establishment of Government Regulations in place of Law No. 2/2022 on Job Creation.

According to Abdul Halim, the Perpu triggers the reopening of access to fishing for foreign fishing vessels (KIA) with large tonnages that will operate in the territorial waters of the Indonesian exclusive economic zone (ZEEI).

It is believed that the presence of KIA will only devastate the small and traditional fishermen who used to catch TCT as a mainstay commodity. They will not be able to compete with sophisticated ships and large tonnage.

Second, regulations on measured fishing policies (PIT) through article 2 paragraph 5c and article 19 paragraph (3) Government Regulation No. 11 of 2023 concerning Measured Catching of Fish. This regulation triggered the determination of North Maluku waters to be included in Zone 3 PIT.

The stipulation of the zone explains that North Maluku waters are included in the category of waters that are open to industrial-scale foreign investment. In addition, PP PIT also allows foreign fish carrier vessels to load and unload fish catches at the port of the destination country (country of origin).

Third, Article 7 of Government Regulation (PP) No.36/2023 concerning Export Proceeds of Foreign Exchange (DHE) from Exploitation, Management and/or Processing of Natural Resources. PP DHE triggers export-oriented fishing businesses to change their product market destinations, from foreign to domestic.

This reason arises because it is estimated that small-scale business actors will be burdened if the rule regarding the yield of 30 percent of exports must be precipitated first, then implemented. This regulation will trigger a change in the target market from foreign to domestic.

Apart from regulations, another problem is that the implemented policies do not succeed in going beyond existing water areas. Currently, Halim said that the coverage of the surveillance area in North Maluku waters is still less than 65 percent.

Then, the budget allocation for surveillance in North Maluku waters also only reached IDR 400 million or the equivalent of 16 days of patrol operations. Finally, there is still a lack of human resources (HR), both civil servant investigators for fisheries (PPNSP) and port personnel.

It is known that the determination of North Maluku to be part of the LIN with Maluku will be carried out by the Minister of Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Sakti Wahyu Trenggono in 2021. At that time, Waai Village, Salahutu District, Central Maluku Regency, Maluku Province was chosen to be the center of the LIN.

The LIN concept has been announced as a national strategic project with a large investment value because there will be the construction of a seaport and integrated industrial area in Eastern Indonesia.

Assistant Deputy for Capture Fisheries of the Coordinating Ministry for Marine Affairs and Fisheries, Ikram Sangadji, shortly after LIN was announced, said that the development of LIN is part of a capture fisheries network which is currently being developed nationally.

In its development, all existing problems must be mapped and solutions sought, including the problems that arise in the WPP-NRI-based fisheries management program and the implementation of LIN.

The Fate of North Maluku Tuna Fishermen: From FADs to Declining Catches

Representatives of tuna fishermen from Morotai Island, West Halmahera, South Halmahera and the City of Ternate, North Maluku, along with several related agencies gathered to discuss the problems of small tuna fishermen on the agenda of the regular meeting of the North Maluku Province Tuna Joint Management Committee (KPBP) in Ternate, Monday ( 11/5/2023) ago.

They revealed various problems, such as obtaining permits for small fishing fleets, the difficult procedure for obtaining permits for FADs, and the fish catches which continued to decline day by day.

During the meeting, a grant was also handed over to the Archipelago Fishermen Radio (RNN) by the Telematics Research and Development Foundation (YPPTI) in collaboration with the Indonesian Fisheries and Society (MDPI) for tuna fishermen in Jambula Village, Ternate City who are members of the Bubula Ma Cahaya Tuna Fishermen’s Cooperative . This radio is a communication tool for fishermen to ensure the position and condition of fishermen when at sea.

Regarding FAD permits, for example, it is very difficult for small fishermen in North Maluku to obtain them because the various licensing requirements and procedures are very burdensome and difficult for fishermen to fulfill. Although the processing of FAD permits issued by the Ministry of Maritime Affairs and Fisheries is done online.

“Little fishermen find it difficult to manage. Moreover, this FAD permit cannot be one fisherman but joins in the form of a cooperative. Not to mention having to register the ship first, then submitting a permit for the Approval document for the Conformity of Marine Space Utilization Activities (PKKPRL) and finally applying for a FAD permit,” said Sabili Asmar, a tuna fisherman from Morotai Island Regency.

Meanwhile in North Maluku it is difficult to find small fishermen who are members of cooperatives and have fishing fleets. Even though fishing gear is one of the licensing requirements. Fishermen also complain about the complicated procedure for obtaining permits.

Just to note that throughout Indonesia there is only one FAD permit that is being managed by tuna fishermen in Madopolo Village, East Obi, South Halmahera, North Maluku. Management of permits for 7 months with the help of MDPI as their assisted fishermen.

The presence of FADs often creates conflicts at the fishermen level. This is because there are FADs installed by big businessmen and the fish are only caught by the fishing fleet owned by the businessman. While small fishermen find it difficult to use FADs in catching fish. Small fishing fleets are also unable to compete with those owned by entrepreneurs.

In the North Maluku Sea, all the FADs that were scattered did not have a permit and most of them belonged to investors from North Sulawesi. In the records of the Marine Fisheries Service (DKP) of North Maluku Province, currently there are approximately 1,300 FADs scattered in North Maluku waters.

“At the moment, small fishermen like us are having a very hard time catching tuna,” explained Nori Luang, a tuna fisherman in Ibu District, West Halmahera.

Head of DKP North Maluku Abdullah Assagaf who was present at the meeting said the FAD issue was a serious problem because it often gave rise to conflicts in the field. In 2023, DKP will carry out several orders. He admitted that the vast sea area of ​​North Maluku requires large operational costs. Because of that, efforts to control were also carried out in stages.

He said that FADs from outside North Maluku are very disturbing to local fishermen because the fish no longer come close to fishing areas that can be reached by small fishermen in West Halmahera. Because if they go to sea far enough, it really drains capital to buy fuel. In addition, currently the catch of fishermen is also decreasing.

Abdullah also asked the parties related to the management of various fishing permits to make it easier for them to get their permits.

Decreased Catch

Tuna fishermen from the City of Ternate have also complained about the continued decline in their catch, both in size and in number since 2017.

“Currently, more baby tuna are caught. Meanwhile, tuna that is caught according to the size above 30 kilograms is increasingly difficult to get,” said Salman Adam, a fisherman from Ternate city.

If they want to get large fish, they have to go out to sea for more than 12 miles, which is increasingly draining capital and fuel. Even that doesn’t necessarily get the catch as expected.

The decline in fish catches was also reinforced by MDPI data which collected data on the catches of FAD and non FAD fishermen in the last five years.

Burdening, Fishermen of North Maluku Protest the Reference of Fish Prices

Several leaders of fishermen’s groups in North Maluku visited the North Maluku Province Fisheries and Maritime Services (DKP) Office on Jalan Ahmad Yani. Ternate City. Wednesday (1/3/2023). They are pole and line fishermen or pole and line fishermen who catch skipjack tuna using 60 vessels with a capacity of between 32-37 gross tonnage assisted by Inka Mina.

Their arrival questioned the policy of implementing measured fishing which is planned to be implemented in fisheries management areas (WPP), one of which is in the eastern sea region of Indonesia, including in North Maluku.

They also questioned the rules in the Decree of the Minister of Maritime Affairs and Fisheries (Kepmen KP) No. 21/2023 concerning Set Reference Prices for Fish which have been in force since January 20, 2023.

This policy aimed at boosting Non-Tax State Revenue (PNBP) from fishermen is considered very burdensome. The reason is because the Central Government only refers to fish prices in the western region of Indonesia, especially Java and Sumatra. Though the conditions are very different.

“Meanwhile in North Maluku the boats are privately owned by each fisherman and include small businesses that form fisherman groups. Therefore, if the KP Minister’s regulation is enforced the same way, it means that it is the same as killing North Maluku fishermen,” said Taufik, Coordinator of Ngofa Fishermen, City of Tidore Islands, after meeting the DKP of North Maluku Province.

Previously, the Central Government had issued Government Regulation (PP) No. 85/2021 concerning Types and Tariffs for Types of PNBP Applicable to the Ministry of Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, which regulates the collection of post-fishery production taxes which no longer refer to ship tonnage but to production results produced in a year.

The derivative regulations are in the form of Kepmen KP No.21/2023 concerning Reference Fish Prices which regulate the prices of several types of fish. For example, for skipjack tuna, the reference price is IDR 9,000/kilogram when landed at PPI or TPI, so the value of PNBP levied from fishermen is 5 percent multiplied by the reference price if the catch is 1 ton.

Taufik assessed that the amount of PNBP levied was very burdensome for fishermen because the standard was too high. “The reference is that Java is a company. Meanwhile in North Maluku it was only fishermen groups. Just imagine that one ship every year before the enactment of this rule paid more than IDR 30 million. After the enactment of this regulation, each ship will pay around IDR 100 million a year. This figure is very burdensome and threatens the sustainability of fishing businesses,” he complained.

Head of DKP North Maluku Province Abdullah Assagaf in the meeting said the fishermen would convey the problem to the KKP. According to him, with the condition that the form of fishery business ownership is in the form of an individual which is different from the industry/company, there is a different classification of fish reference prices for the North Maluku region.

During the meeting, fishermen also raised the issue of fuel oil (BBM) which should have received subsidized fuel prices, but in fact bought them at industrial fuel prices. 

KKP Accommodation of Fishermen Input

The Minister of Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Sakti Wahyu Trenggono ensures the implementation of Post-production PNBP in the capture fisheries sector for the benefit of fishing communities and the sustainability of fish resources in Indonesia.

In collecting Post-production PNPB, MMAF accommodates the interests of fishing communities and fishery business actors by issuing Ministerial Decree No. 21/2023 concerning Fish Reference Prices which was issued on January 20, 2023.

Determination of Post-production PNBP is regulated in PP No. 85/2021 concerning Types and Tariffs for Types of PNBP Applicable to KK with a number of derivative regulations in implementing Post-production PNBP levies, one of which is Kepmen KP 21/2023.

Admittedly, the adjustment to the reference price for fish does not only consider the input of fishery business actors, but also takes into account the cost of production or operational costs. For this reason, Trenggono asked that these adjustments be obeyed so that the productivity of environmentally friendly capture fisheries in the country runs optimally.

The application of Post-production PNBP is supported by technological infrastructure, one of which is the e-PIT application which will be used by business actors to input the amount of their catch. Also from this system, business actors will know automatically the amount of Post-production PNBP that must be paid to the state.

On the same occasion, the Director General of Capture Fisheries at the Ministry of Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, Muhammad Zaini, urged business actors to be honest in conveying their catch.

“Our message to business actors, because we have accommodated adjustments to Post-production PNPB through the fish reference price scheme, I also ask for honesty from business actors to report the amount of production honestly because this will be related to the Post-production PNBP paid,” he said.

Regarding fishermen’s request for the KKP to reduce the PNBP index rate from 10 percent for vessels over 60 GT, the Directorate General of Licensing and Services of the Directorate General of Capture Fisheries at the KKP Ukon Ahmad Furqon admitted that a solution had been prepared by adjusting the Fish Reference Price (HAI), which is another variable in the calculation. Post-production PNBP, taking into account operational costs or cost of production. This solution was well received by business actors while waiting for the revision of the tariff index in PP 85/2021.

“This is what we absorb. The Minister has also received directly from fishermen friends recently.  We are still discussing how this can be completed as quickly as expected,” he said, according to the KKP’s release in mid-January 2023.

There are 77 fishing ports in Indonesia that are ready to implement Post-production PNPB and fishing vessels that have pocketed Post-production PNBP permits as of February as many as 576 ships.

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