Sunday, March 21, 2010

Indonesian fishing license moratorium needs to be backed with reduced fishing effort – WWF

Indonesia is implementing a moratorium on new licenses for trawl and purse seine fisheries this month until the status of their declining fish stocks fully recover.

“While recognizing this as an initial step towards the right direction, we would like to see this supplemented by an immediate reduction in fishing effort and strong enforcement of “no take” zones to help fully exploited fish stocks in the Coral Triangle to recover” says Dr Lida Pet-Soede, WWF Coral Triangle Programme Head.   

“We would also like to seek further clarification on the criteria being used to determine stock recovery and how this is will be evaluated. WWF is willing to participate and contribute to this process” adds Dr Pet-Soede.

As of 2007, more than 10,000 trawlers and 22,000 purse seiners have been found in Indonesian waters. These numbers have likely grown in the past few years alone, largely contributing to overfishing, mostly of fully exploited juvenile tunas, and illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing in the area (IUU).

“These existing fishing fleets are highly capable of bringing already fully exploited fish stocks to an even greater overfished state” adds Dr. Pet-Soede.  

Trawling, which can catch as much as 30 tons of fish in a single operation, was banned nationally in 1980 but was once again made legal two years later, specifically in the Arafuru Seas in Papua.

In 2008, a regulation to allow shrimp trawling in the East Kalimantan province was issued.

Today, demersal fish stocks and shrimp are fully exploited and overfished in the Arafuru Seas. Similar results have occurred in the Flores Seas and Makassar Strait in East Kalimantan.

Purse seining has likewise become an issue in Indonesian fisheries. As much as 57% of skipjack, 71% of yellowfin and 75% of bigeye tunas caught by Indonesian purse seiners are juvenile and fully exploited. 

Purse seining of small pelagic fish, or free swimming open ocean species like Skipjack tuna and sardines in Indonesia accounts for as much as 80% of the total catch in the Western and Central Pacific Ocean. This however also includes big pelagic fish, which have been overfished in the Sulawesi Seas and Pacific Ocean. Pelagic fish, both big and small, have now been classified as fully exploited in Indonesia.

Indonesia is regionally part of what is known as the Coral Triangle, the world’s centre of marine life. This region contains spawning and nursery grounds and migratory routes for commercially-valuable tuna species such as bigeye, yellowfin, skipjack and albacore, producing more than 40% of the total catch for the Western Central Pacific region, and representing more than 20% of the total global catch.

Tuna in the Coral Triangle, which spans the Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands and Timor-Leste, supports the economies of many developing nations and represents the livelihoods of millions of people in this region and beyond.

“This moratorium on new fishing licenses for trawlers and purse seiners will certainly stop the bleeding but not the wound, so to speak. A reduction in current fishing capacity is key to addressing problems of overfishing and bycatch of juvenile tunas in the Coral Triangle.” 

  • The Coral Triangle—the nursery of the seas—is the most diverse marine region on the planet, matched in its importance to life on Earth only by the Amazon rainforest and the Congo basin. Defined by marine areas containing more than 500 species of reef-building coral, it covers around 6 million square kilometres of ocean across six countries in the Indo-Pacific – Indonesia, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, Solomon Islands, and Timor-Leste.
  • It is home to 3,000 species of reef fish and commercially-valuable species such as tuna, whales, dolphins, rays, sharks, and 6 of the 7 known species of marine turtles.
  • The Coral Triangle also directly sustains the lives of more than 120 million people and contains key spawning and nursery grounds for tuna, while healthy reef and coastal systems underpin a growing tourism sector. WWF is working with other NGOs, multilateral agencies and governments around the world to support conservation efforts in the Coral Triangle for the benefit of all.
  • For information on Coral Triangle go to: 

For further information:

Dr Lida Pet-Soede, Head, WWF Coral Triangle Programme (Bali, Indonesia), Email:, Tel: +628123818741
Paolo P. Mangahas, Communications Manager, WWF Coral Triangle Programme (Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia), Email:, Tel: +60378033772
Dewi Satriani, Marine Communications, WWF-Indonesia (Jakarta, Indonesia), Email: , Tel: +62811910970

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