The Importance of a Communication Forum to Strengthen the Bargaining Power of Fishermen

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Dozens of fishermen and extension workers gathered at the Royal Bay Hotel, Makassar, South Sulawesi, Friday (14/7/2023). They gathered to agree to legalize the communication forum that had been formed before. They were also enthusiastic about agreeing on the bylaws and bylaws, including the logo they would use.

“We realize that the forkom that has been formed needs legality so that fishermen can also have strong bargaining power,” said Irham Rapy, Co Management Coordinator of SFP .

Christo Hutabarat, SFP Technical Advisor for Asia-Pacific, explained that the formation of this communication forum by grouper fishermen in South Sulawesi shows that various parties cannot work alone.

In addition, fishermen are willing to cooperate with any party, including the DKP as a guide for fishermen with an official mechanism so that their aspirations are legally documented.

The formation of the fisherman forum is the second of the SFP facilitation. Previously, a Communication Forum for Rajungan Fishermen (Forkom Nelangsa) was legally formed, whose membership spanned several provinces, including South Sulawesi.

According to Christo, the existence of fishing forums is very important, if we reflect on the existence of Nelangsa forums that had been formed previously.

“The fishermen at the Nelangsa Forkom have been actively involved and even invited several times officially at the ministry to respond to the revision or review of the blue swimming crab management plan on their own behalf. So our hope, with a legal voice, can be conveyed through the organization.”

Christo hopes that the existence of Forkom Narasi which is legally recognized will be able to join hands with the government and work hand in hand to help manage snapper-grouper fisheries in South Sulawesi.

The Head of the Capture Fisheries Division for the South Sulawesi Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Service (DKP), Andi Agung, welcomed the existence of this fishing forum, which according to him has gone further, can support various programs at the South Sulawesi DKP.

The formation of this forkom should enable it to eventually set prices for fishery commodities.The price of grouper fish per kilo may be determined later by fishermen, but we must declare it.

Agung compared it with other commodities on the mainland. “Like eggs, the price has been determined in such a way which is also monitored by the government, so we also want our seafood to be priced like that.”

Agung hopes that the existence of this forum can synergize well with the government and hopes not only for snapper-grouper fishermen, but also for other fishery commodities.

“We hope that all of these commodities will have forums, so that it will no longer be difficult for us to look for commodities when investors or buyers come and all we have to do is contact the head of the forum.”

He hopes fishermen can have more concern and awareness together as a group and DKP will always support whatever the fishermen do, and can agree with each other in all these activities.

Erwin, Chairman of the Indonesian Snapper-Graper Fishermen Forum (Forkom Narasi), hopes that this forum will raise the level of the fishermen’s economy and can build intensive communication with the government in conveying various problems faced.

The Narasi Forum was formed based on the fishing gear they use, namely environmentally friendly fishing gear. One of the challenges they will face in the future is when members are tempted to catch using non-environmentally friendly fishing gear that produces more.

Anticipating this, the forkom determines a warning and sanction mechanism for members who are deemed to have violated the forkom statutes, starting from giving warnings to dismissing them as group members.

Form a Communication Forum

Small crab fishermen from several regions in Indonesia gathered, forming a communication forum called the Nusantara Rajungan Fishermen Communication Forum (Forkom Nelangsa). This forum was legalized by a notary in 2020 and is now continuing to consolidate members.

“We realize that the sustainability of our livelihood depends on the preservation of blue crab resources,” said Mustain, National Coordinator of the Nelangsa Forkom, at an online meeting with the Director of Licensing and Fisheries and the Director of Fisheries Resources Management, Ministry of Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, Wednesday (5/5/2021).

Even though institutionally it has just been formed, so far the members of the crab fishermen forum have taken the initiative through sustainable crab utilization activities, such as building crab apartments, developing crab protection areas and collaborating with the central and provincial governments, as well as other partners.

Blue swimming crab itself is the third largest contributor to exports of fishery products in Indonesia after shrimp and tuna. Blue swimming crab is one of the leading export commodities because it has high economic value where most of the crab export destinations are the United States. This has the potential to improve the welfare of the blue swimming crab fishermen, most of whom are small-scale fishermen using vessels <10 GT.

According to Mustain, the management of small-scale fisheries in developing countries, one of which is Indonesia, faces various challenges including the unavailability of adequate data, the large number of fishing boats that have not been registered, conflicts between fishermen regarding fishing gear and fishing lines, lack of organizational capacity of fishermen and limited Intensive communication between the government and fishermen causes a lack of involvement of fishermen in management discussions so that the voices of small fishermen cannot be accommodated.

According to him, various current ministry policies related to crab fisheries, for example regarding the minimum size that may be caught and the release of spawning crabs are sometimes not implemented properly in the field due to various factors, such as lack of socialization and weak supervision from related parties. Not to mention the still operating destructive fishing gear such as the cantrang which often causes conflict between fishermen.

Nur Alimin, Secretary of the Nelangsa Forkom, in the discussion emphasized the desire of small crab fishermen to participate in the success of government programs in encouraging the sustainability of small crabs in Indonesia.

“We blue crab fishermen also want to be involved and play an active role in assisting and supporting the government’s efforts to sustain blue crab resources in Indonesia. We see the need for a forum for communication between crab fishermen that can synergize with government programs and strategies so that these various issues can be handled better,” he said.

One of the main problems faced by small crab fishermen in various regions, such as Lampung and Makassar, is sand mining. This sand mining has a negative impact on fishermen in the crab catching business.

Trian Yunanda, Director of Fish Resources of the DJPT-KKP, expressed his appreciation to the crab fishermen who had taken the initiative to form this forum. This forum is considered to synergize with the government through various programs and policies that have been and will be carried out. Moreover, the Ministry of Maritime Affairs and Fisheries is currently drafting policies related to the management of the blue swimming crab fishery so that the contributions from fishermen are of course very valuable.

“We will hear input from fishermen and the government is ready to work together through various activities such as collecting fishermen’s data and managing the crab fishery,” he said.

Mahrus, the Coordinator of the Fishermen Protection and Institutional Group at KKP, also positively welcomed the birth of this forum and hoped that this forum would become a solution to inform problems that occur in the field and experienced directly by crab fishermen to the KKP.

According to Mahrus, so far the KKP has been trying to help and protect the profession of fishermen and cultivators through Law No.7/2016. Fishermen have access to various government programs such as capital assistance, support for fishing and cultivation facilities, fisherman insurance, fishing village programs, training and educational assistance for fishermen’s children.

However, because all programs are proposing, government assistance must be proposed at least by Joint Business Groups (KUB) or cooperatives and not given to individual fishermen.

On this occasion, Mustain, on behalf of the forum submitted a number of requests to the government, be it the provincial and district/city KKP or DKP. Among other things, the government is expected to always involve forums in meetings, discussions and discussions on crab fisheries to convey the voice of crab fishermen.

Regarding the widespread use of non-environmentally friendly fishing gear such as cantrang and sand mining, Mustain hopes that relevant parties will discipline and enforce the law and increase supervision regarding fishing lines.

He also hopes for the willingness of key KKP officials to become the Board of Trustees in the organizational structure of this forum. Regarding this hope, the Director of Fish Resources Management, Directorate General of Capture Fisheries, Ministry of Maritime Affairs and Fisheries (KKP), Trian Yunanda, and the Director of Licensing and Services of the Directorate General of Capture Fisheries, Ministry of Maritime Affairs and Fisheries (KKP), Ridwan Mulyana, stated that they are willing to sit on the Advisory Board of Forkom Miserable.

A number of parties who attended this discussion included the Directorate General of Capture Fisheries, the Coordinator of Fishermen Institutional and Protection Groups, Fishermen Business Group, Kapuslatluh KKP, DKP Lampung, West Java, Central Java, East Java and Southeast Sulawesi, Indonesian Crab Management Association, Dorko , Nelangsa, Sustainable Fisheries Partnership (SFP), Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), Starling Resources, Mitra Bentala Foundation and fisheries extension officers.

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