Despite Indonesia`s huge marine potentials, however, Indonesia has so far been able to utilize only eight percent of its marine potentials, according to Marine Affairs and Fisheries Minister Fadel Muhammad recently.
Most of people living in coastal areas are fishermen and they reside in a total of around 10,300 coastal villages, and some 25.6 percent of them are underprivileged.
"The income of coastal people in Indonesia is very low, less than one US dollar a day," the marine affairs and fisheries ministry`s Marine, Coastal, and Small Island Affairs Director General Dr Sudirman Saad said in Bogor on Thursday (Sept 22), 2011.
The coastal people also face difficulty in trying to develop themselves because there are not enough infrastructure, eduction access, capable human resources, and health facilities in most of the coastal areas.
"At coastal villages, a teacher must handle six classes," Sudirman said in a workshop on "Development of Strong Coastal Villages," organized by the Bogor Institute of Agriculture (IPB).
Their hardship get worse because most coastal villages are prone to natural disasters such as tsunami and earthquake.
"The majority of coastal villages are prone to earthquakes, except those on Kalimantan Island," the marine affairs and fisheries ministry`s Coastal and Marine Director Dr Subandono said on the sidelines of the workshop.
Some other 700 coastal villages are vulnerable to tsunami, and around 2,000 others prone to tidal wave floods, he said.
The natural disasters have also threatened the marine ecosystem especially coral reefs and mangrove forests, and caused coastal people live in poverty, according to the official.
Therefore, in order to improve the welfare of the coastal people, the directorate general has initiated a program called "the Development of Strong and Self-Reliant Villages" (PDPT).
The PDPT program will improve infrastructure at 6,640 villages, so if there is a disaster, the impact will not be that fatal," he said, adding that coastal villages are generally prone to natural disasters.
Minister Fadel Muhammad, as the chairman of the Coordinating Team for Intensification and Expansion of Pro-people Programs, which was established based on the presidential decree no. 10/2011, recently outlined eight strategies to improve the welfare of fishermen.
The strategies included development of low-cost houses, small and medium scale business diversification, more gas stations for fishermen, cold storage development, affordable public transportation, school and community health center facilities, and people`s banking facilities, Minister Fadel said at a coordinating meeting to discuss the draft budget for 2012, in Jakarta recently.
The ministry has allocated funds amounting to Rp127.823 billion to improve fisherman`s welfare in 2011, and is trying to get additional funds from the government`s savings of Rp817 billion.
The program is expected to help reduce the poverty rate in coastal areas.
"The Programs will be implemented in underprivileged fishermen areas, with fishery harbors as the basis. A total of 816 fishery ports will become the targets of the development. In the first phase, the programs will be implemented in 100 fishery ports and 400 more in 2012," Fadel said.
Individual fishermen, fishermen`s groups, fishery port facilities and infrastructures such as boats, houses, schools, and scholarships for fishermen`s children, will be among the targets of the program.
The government will help individual fishermen to get land certificates, insurance, and fishing equipment assistance.
Fishermen groups will be provided with among other things fishing boats and funds. Fishery ports will be equipped with facilities and infrastructures including mini cold storage, and formation of fishermen`s Solar Packed Dealers (SPDN).
Several related ministries have expressed a commitment to support the programs.
The public housing ministry will construct 16,933 low-cost houses for fishermen. The energy and mineral resources ministry will supply electricity to 16,933 fishermen`s houses, and the public works ministry will install clean water facilities at 205 fishery ports.
Fadel Muhammad said the government will until 2014 also provide 1,000 thirty dead weight tons boats for fisherman in increasing their productivity.
He said the boats are expected to enable the fishermen go further into the sea catching more fish.
The stages of the provision of the 1,000 fishing boats cover 250 in 2011, 250 in 2012, 250 in 2013, and another 250 in 2014.
He said the budget for the procurement of the 1,000 boats is provided by the central government and realized by the regional administrations.
"We have already given Central Java 30 units, there they used the budget, organized the tender, build the ships, while we at the central government only take care of the basic specifications, they are building the boats there," he said.
Two non-governmental organizations (NGOs), however, recently reminded the government of another serious problem threatening the livelihood of fishermen, namely the the negative impacts of free market.
"In the fishery sector, there are traditional fishermen incapable of facing competition in the free market and need protection as well as facilities from the government," the People`s Coalition for the Fishery Justice (Kiara) Program Coordinator, Abdul Halim, said recently.
The protection policy could include programs to improve the capacity and capability of traditional fishermen, he said.
He explained that the capacity building should also cover the provision of capital to be used to increase fish production and processing, and insurance cards for fishermen.
Previously, Chairman of the Jakarta Fishermen Communication Forum Tiharom said the free trade agreements signed by Indonesia with other countries such as China and ASEAN member countries, disadvantaged traditional fishermen.
"The Free Trade Agreement between ASEAN and China will only benefit less than five percent of major fishermen, while traditional fishermen are marginalized," Tiharom said.
Traditional fishermen in north Jakarta, for instance, have suffered losses because more than 30 percent of fish traded at Muara Angke and Muara Baru fish markets are imported and sold at lower prices than Indonesian fish.
Climate change is another problem facing fishermen. Therefore, Kiara has urged the government to carry out an adaptation program to deal with the climate change impacts, which have lately limited the number of days that fishermen could go to the sea from fishing. ***4***
(T.F001/A/F001/A/H-YH) 24-09-2011 20:05:05
Daerah : Jakarta (JKT)