Indonesia: Bumper crops all round for Batang fishermen

Agus Maryono Jakarta Post 13 Mar 16;

Fishermen in Batang regency, Central Java, have seen a significant increase in their hauls over the last two years, thanks to improved fishing equipment, an official has said.

The Batang administration’s head of fisheries and maritime affairs , Achmad Taufik, said Batang’s sea fishing production reached around 25 million kilograms per year on average. “In the last two years, production has increased by around 25 percent annually,” Taufik said on Friday, adding that sea fishing revenues contributed around Rp 80 billion (US$6.08 million) per year to the regency’s locally generated recurring revenues.

“We are targeting a 27.5 percent increase in our fisheries production this year. With their plentiful hauls, we hope that fish traders do not forget their responsibility to pay fees to the government,” Taufik said.

To maximize sea fishing production, he went on, the Batang administration is set to renovate infrastructure facilities at fish auction centers in seven areas across the regency.

According to Taufik, Batang now has 11,765 fishermen, comprising 625 fishing boat owners and 11,140 crew members, and 765 fishing vessels with various gross tonnages.

The fishing vessels operate various modern fishing equipment, such as purse seines, mini purse seines, bottom long lines, gill nets and trammel nets.

Friday morning saw unexpected scenes at Batang port, with dozens of sharks laid out on the floor of a storage facility within the complex. Fishermen were seen unloading more sharks from large baskets and labeling their catches.

“They are expensive. They will be sold in Jakarta, not here,” said Abdul Kahfi, 40, a fisherman, adding that sharks were very much in season in the waters off the coastal regency.

“Alhamdulillah, we're getting good hauls. We go fishing every day and return home with our vessels packed with fish,” he told thejakartapost.com. He added that there were around 10,000 fishermen active in Batang, and that almost all of them were enjoying large hauls.

According to Kahfi, an adult shark can fetch between Rp 400,000 and Rp 500,000.

Shark overfishing among local fishermen, however, has put the species at risk of extinction. Indonesia catches more sharks than any country in the world, according to conservation group Save Sharks Indonesia.

Green Peace Indonesia data show that Indonesia produces at least 486 tons of dried shark fins per year. Meanwhile, the United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) says at least 1.1 million tons of shark products are traded globally every year. Conservation groups have called on the government to take tougher measures to prevent shark fishing. (ebf)

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