Indonesia: N. Sumatra fishermen protest over lingering use of trawls

Apriadi Gunawan The Jakarta Post 26 Mar 18;

More than 100 traditional fishermen under the Batubara Traditional Fishermen Union staged a protest at Batubara Police precinct on Monday demanding the law enforcement personnel take firm action against fishermen still using trawlers in Batubara regency, North Sumatra.

The head of the group, Syawaluddin Pane, said the fishermen were growing restless with those using fishing trawlers and vessels equipped with cantrang (seine nets) in the North Sumatra waters.

“We have protested so many times, but fishing activities using trawls remains here, instead of decreasing,” he said during the protest on Monday, adding that the fishermen would take the matter into their own hands if the authorities ignored their protests.

The Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Ministry had issued two regulations in 2015 and 2016 banning the use of trawlers along with cantrang, considered as an unsustainable fishing method, as of Jan. 1.

However, the restriction plan was met with a string of protests from fishermen claiming that the policy would affect their income. Minister Susi Pudjiastuti then decided on Jan. 17 that it would still allow fishermen living on the north coast of Java to use the fishing equipment while gradually moving to more sustainable fishing equipment. No exact date of the total ban has been imposed.

Syawaluddin urged Susi to back up her words while meeting traditional fishermen at Sialang Buah Beach, Sedang Bedagai regency, in December. He claimed that at the meeting, Susi aimed to clear North Sumatra waters from the use of destructive fishing equipment by January.

“Up to present, the government’s promise has not been manifested,” he added.

Batubara deputy Police chief Sr. Comr. M. Hutabarat said the police would coordinate with related parties to settle the issue in response to the protests.