Fisheries Minister Susi Pudjiastuti Faces Evaluation after Complaints
Indonesian Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Minister Susi Pudjiastuti has successfully reduced the total number of illegal fishing cases throughout the country, but has still found herself in hot water with President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo after complaints over regulations were filed at his office.
Pudjiastuti, a popular cabinet member, forbade fishermen from using trawl and seine nets in 2015 citing environmental risks. Small-time fishermen have since filed many complaints, saying the regulation has decreased their catches and affected their livelihoods.
According to the minister, trawl and seine nets are responsible for seabed and marine ecosystem damage.
The government began distributing gillnets to local fishing communities in an effort to ease the ban but data obtained from the presidential staff office shows that as of April this year only 605 fishermen from the entire archipelago have received the nets.
"Gillnets have only been distributed to fewer than 10 percent of all fishermen in Indonesia," Teten Masduki, head of the presidential staff office, said on April 26.
The ban policy outraged the fishing community who said they needed to continue using the nets to sustain catches. Several fishermen have since been charged by authorities for using trawl or seine nets while they wait for government distributed gillnets.
"The process of distributing the gillnets has to be accelerated so fishermen may soon return to the sea, as their financial needs depend on it," Masduki said.
Complaints made by the community reached Jokowi, who promised to call on Pudjiastuti to evaluate the Ministry of Maritime Affairs and Fisheries regulation.
“I will evaluate the regulation made by the ministry, but please believe that the government will provide the best solution for local fishermen," Jokowi said, as reported by Kompas.