Indonesia OKs stricter fishing measures

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/15 August) – Indonesia is set to implement on December 1 stricter fishing regulations that could adversely impact the local tuna industry, documents from the Department of Foreign Affairs and the Department of National Defense obtained on Monday said.

Meynardo Montealegre, DFA acting assistant secretary, said there’s a need to undertake extensive information campaign among the local fishing community due to Jakarta’s new fishing measures.

At the same time, Montealegre said the new Indonesian fishing regulation should more importantly trigger the Philippines to enhance its preventive programs through border patrols.

“We request the DND to apprise the Eastern Mindanao Command of these new developments, which will be relevant in the conduct of its functions in the PH [Philippine] Border Committee and border patrol,” he said.

The new Indonesian fishing regulation was approved last June 1 and prescribes that:

– Foreign companies wishing to establish fishing operations in Indonesia must have an integrated fishing operations, which imply that companies should not only have fishing boats but processing operations in Indonesia as well;

– The export of fresh fish from Indonesia is not allowed. The fish must first be processed in Indonesia, and only these processing companies may export the processed fish.

– Permits may be given to vessels based on the following: 0 to 10 gross tons (GT) by the regency or city; 10 to 60 GT by provincial; and above 60 GT by the Ministry of Fisheries;

– For ships weighing 60 GT and below, no foreign investment or foreign labor is allowed;

– Foreigners wishing to work in fishing in Indonesia will apply for work permits from the Indonesian Ministry of Labor;

– During the five-year term permit for vessels weighing above 60 GT, the following manning operations are to be followed: First year, the percentage of foreign fishermen, maximum should be 50%; second year, 40%; third year, 30%; fourth year, 20%; and fifth year, 10%.

– By the sixth year, there should be 100-percent Indonesian labor in the fishing vessels, and;

– Foreign companies are mandated to transfer their technology to the Indonesian employees of the fishing companies concerned.

Sought for comments, Rosanna Contreras, new executive director of the Socsksargen Federation of Fishing and Allied Industries, Inc., said they are still waiting for an orientation on the new Indonesian fishing regulations, which is slated on Friday.

The Philippines and Indonesia had forged a bilateral fishing agreement that ended in 2005. It was extended for another year but was not renewed.

Over the years, thousands of Filipino fishermen have been jailed and repatriated from Indonesia for illegal fishing activities.

Just last month, nearly a hundred Filipino fishermen imprisoned for illegal fishing were repatriated to this city from Bitung in Indonesia.

This city is touted as the “Tuna Capital of the Philippines.” (Bong S. Sarmiento / MindaNews)