Susi Pudjiastuti, Indonesia's Minister of Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, informed that still not all fishery products that are captured in Indonesian seas and waters are reported to the government. For example, in 2015 only 6 million tons of captured fish were reported to authorities, while it is estimated that production in fact reached 7.4 million tons, implying a 18 percent difference between "legal" and "illegal" fisheries production in Indonesia. In fact, Indonesia's Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Ministry believes the figure is much higher.
According to Minister Pudjiastuti, it is more likely that 30 percent of captured fishery products in Indonesia can be labelled "illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing" and therefore the ministry needs to continue its battle against illegal fishing in Indonesia. She added that there are currently 506,300 local ships that own fishing permits (with 3,525 units being ships sized over 30 gross tonnage). According to calculations of the Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Ministry this should result in an annual fisheries production figure of 7.4 million tons.
Pudjiastuti emphasized that illegal fishing does not only involve foreign fishermen secretly fishing in Indonesian waters. There are also various cases of local fishing companies that lower the size of their vessels when arranging permits, but once permits are in their hands they enlarge their vessels hence are able to catch more (unreported) fisheries products. This also means that the government misses out on additional tax revenue. More alarmingly, they damage the environment (overfishing makes it difficult for fish populations to recover) and make a lot of profit from it.
Indonesian authorities have also taken an aggressive stance on illegal fishing that is conducted by foreigners. Since the end of 2014 more than 220 foreign vessels have been destroyed for being caught fishing illegally in Indonesian territory. Pudjiastuti defends this policy as overfishing is a real problem in Indonesia, while it is unfair that billions in annual revenue flow toward neighboring countries; money that should have gone to Indonesia. The aggressive crackdown will lead to a normalization of the country's fishing industry over the next three years, Pudjiastuti recently stated.
This tough stance has already had a positive impact. Since foreigners are now more careful to enter Indonesian waters, domestic production of fish has grown from 2 million tons a year to more than six million tons. Each local ship now catches more fish than before because fish populations have recovered after a period of sustained overfishing.
Indonesia's fishery industry - together with farming and forestry - accounts for 14 percent of the total Indonesian economy and employs millions of Indonesians.