There are several staggering facts about Indonesia’s marine and fisheries richness. The archipelagic nation is second only to China as the world’s largest fishing nation. Its ocean is also a large part of the Coral Triangle area, where 76 percent of the world’s coral species and 37 percent of the world’s coral reef fish species lives.
Indonesia’s marine commodity industry directly involves 2.8 million households. Unsurprisingly, 54 percent of Indonesia’s animal protein comes from fish and seafood. Ten percent of global marine commodities are supplied by Indonesia and the numbers are set to increase, following the increasing demands for seafood worldwide. Currently, the fisheries sector contributes to USD29.6 billion or 2.6 percent in the nation’s GDP – not to mention its contribution for the tourism sector and its invaluable environmental protection.
Indonesian coasts are made of various landscapes, from natural mangrove forests to man-made shrimp farms. As such, the region’s small islands are also prone to natural disasters such as floods and tsunamis. Therefore, the natural protection provided by the coral reefs and mangrove forests are invaluable to protect the live and livelihood of low-lying communities. The ecosystem is both fertile and fragile. It requires a careful planning and that’s where the blue economy concept comes handy.
The World Bank defines blue economy as a “sustainable use of ocean resources for economic growth, improved livelihoods, and jobs while preserving the health of ocean ecosystem”. It encompasses many activities such as fisheries, renewable energy, tourism, maritime transport, waste management, and climate change mitigation. When managed sustainably, each and every sector can contribute to Indonesia’s prosperity.
Fisheries, for example, grew 4.55 percent in the third quarter of 2021 year-on-year, a significant increase compared to the previous year, and a call for government to advance its blue economy concept implementation, in line with Indonesia’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) commitment. Furthermore, the marine and fishery commodity exports reached 7.7 percent during January – September 2021 with a value of USD4 billion. In September 2021 alone, the export value reached USD524 million, an increase of 4 percent when compared to the export value in August 2021.
The Indonesian Ministry of Marine Affairs and Fisheries is fully aware of these potentials. “The Government of Indonesia has been working towards a blue economy strategy to improve the governance of marine and coastal ecosystems, achieve equal economic opportunities, and promote livelihoods, including by setting ambitious targets to reduce marine debris as well as restore and conserve mangrove and other oceans ecosystems. We look forward to increasing collaboration with other partners to further strengthen and implement a sustainable ocean economy,” said Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan, Coordinating Minister for Maritime Affairs and Investment. In Indonesia, Fisheries Management Area (Wilayah Pengelolaan Perikanan or WPP) is defined as an area for fishing, fish cultivation, conservation, research, and fisheries development which includes inland waters, archipelagic waters, territorial sea, additional zones, and Indonesia’s exclusive economic zone. Thus the strategy needs to include all of them.
Investors are welcome to invest in Indonesia’s aquaculture program. The Directorate General of Aquaculture (DJB) has prepared a marine and fisheries framework based on Fisheries Management Areas (WPP). From three-working day online single submission (OSS) business permit issuance to clear regulations, the Ministry of Marine Affairs and Fisheries is optimist that Indonesia’s blue economy investment holds the key to a sustainable prosperity.
The recently held Indonesia – Seychelles Blue Economy Workshop: Opportunities for Collaboration and Investment further cemented the government’s seriousness in targeting the blue economy investment through collaboration with Seychelles. The partnership discussion includes blue economy development, marine tourism, coastal management, responsible fisheries, and marine conservation areas. James Alix Michel, former President of The Republic of Seychelles, attended the hybrid workshop and stated his support. Under his presidency, Seychelles managed to design a comprehensive marine spatial planning and became the first country in the world who issued a sovereign blue bond.
The blue economy is a great opportunity to harvest economic benefits and help Indonesia sustainably use the ocean resources for economic growth, improvement of livelihoods, and preserve its ocean ecosystem health.