Indonesia has become one of the largest - if not the largest - tuna producing countries around the globe. It is estimated that Indonesia supplies about one million tons of the saltwater finfish per year or 16 percent of the world's total tuna supply. As such, the tuna fishing industry has become a vital component of Indonesia's fishing industry and an increasingly important foreign exchange earner within the overall economy. Susi Pudjiastuti, Minister of Maritime and Fisheries, is confident that Indonesia will enhance its key role in the world's tuna industry.
However, Pudjiastuti added that the main challenges in Indonesia's tuna industry include the conservation of tuna resources as only 66 percent of total tuna fishing in Indonesia is conducted while taking into account the sustainability of tuna resources. The remainder is fished beyond ecologically safe limits, for example because the fish is caught faster than populations can reproduce (overfishing). Pudjiastuti added that another key challenge in Indonesia's tuna industry is to become a global supplier for the whole range of upstream to downstream tuna products.
Indonesia is the world's largest archipelago and therefore it controls a huge area of (fish-rich) seas and waters. Narmoko Prasmadji, Director General of Captured Fisheries within the Maritime and Fisheries Ministry, agreed with Minister Pudjiastuti saying that a key challenge for Indonesia is to safeguard the sustainability of its fish resources, particularly the tuna resources. Currently, Indonesia's tuna resources are already being over-exploited. To change this situation Prasmadji says a new tuna management plan needs to be designed.
The issue of sustainable tuna fishing is one of the subjects that is discussed at the 2nd Bali Tuna Conference and 5th International Coastal Tuna Business Forum (both events are combined into a two-day program), hosted by Indonesia’s Maritime and Fisheries Ministry with support from the International Pole & Line Foundation (IPNLF). The event takes place at the Discovery Kartika Plaza Hotel in Bali between 19-20 May 2016.
Since President Joko Widodo and Minister of Maritime and Fisheries Susi Pudjiastuti were inaugurated in October 2014, Indonesia has embarked on a progressive (some may say aggressive) and forward thinking strategy to defend, promote and expand the country’s small-scale fisheries while tackling illegal fishing activities (in Indonesian media there have been many reports about illegal foreign vessels - usually originating from Malaysia, Thailand or Vietnam - having been destroyed after crews were detained by Indonesian forces).
Tuna fishing in Indonesia is conducted in the waters of the Eastern Indian Ocean (contributing 20 percent to Indonesia's total commercial tuna production) and the Western Central Pacific Ocean (contributing nearly 80 percent to total commercial tuna production). However, most local fishermen still use traditional fishing techniques as well as equipment. This gives rise to inefficient fishing and therefore the full potential of the fishery sector has not been tapped yet.
After shrimp, tuna is the most important export product of Indonesia in terms of fishery products. The main markets for Indonesian tuna are Japan, the USA, Thailand and the European Union. Meanwhile, other key tuna producing countries are the Philippines, China, Japan, Korea, Taiwan, and Spain.